A Review of Douglas Smith’s Impossibilia (PS Publishing, 2008)
By Derek Newman-Stille
Impossibilia features Douglas Smith’s fascination with moral questions and morally ambiguous spaces where characters are forced to question conflicting values and ideologies. Through his characters, he asks readers What would change your morals? What are you willing to sacrifice? What would you do for the person you love? How much could you change and still be who you are? There is no certain ground in Smith’s work and readers are compelled to question every element of their identity and explore whether there is anything such as a fixed identity. Everything is changeable and everything is open to questions.
A collection of short stories, Impossibilia represents an exploration of the ways that the past continues to haunt us. Whether it is through a werewolf who lives with the memory and regrets of a past love, a gambler with the power to see luck who must revisit his daughter after living the wandering life, a man with the voice of his ex wife in his head, or even a woman obsessed with van Gogh and unable to escape from their mutual link of pain. Present and past intersect in Impossibilia, and memory is something inescapable.
Smith does not focus his stories on the development of new loves (that’s too easy), but rather the fall-outs of love, the casualties of love and the repercussions. He explores the odd families that develop in the wake of love and the potentialities that exist when things fall apart.
Smith explores his interest in the veil between the ordinary and the extraordinary, challenging the bounds of the possible.
In Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase, by van Gogh, pain becomes a point of connection, of sharing between people separated by time. The truth thought buried under lies surfaces through an exploration of the connection of pain between a young woman who can see into the past and van Gogh, an artist who shares her haunted experience of melancholy. The past is something that always lurks beneath the surface of the present…. and perhaps in some ways the present can even haunt the past.
Going Down in Lucky Town explores luck as a tangible thing and the awareness that one person’s luck is another’s misfortune. Charlie the Pearl is haunted by a past that he can’t stay still in, always moving on to the next adventure, chasing the path of luck to the next big reward.
You can explore my review of one of the short stories in this volume, Spirit Dance, posted October 31, 2012.
You can check out Impossibilia and Douglas Smith’s other work at http://smithwriter.com/impossibilia . You can get a ebook copy on Kobo at http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Impossibilia/book-920BLiV38U2erq3geBWO7A/page1.html
Past experiences always colour the way we now look at the world. The influence these experiences have over us, whether good or bad makes us who we are, as much as we may try to forget what happened.