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Book Review

Finnegan's Parish & Other Stories, John Dahlgren

Finnegan's Parish & Other Stories

John Dahlgren, June 2006

Reviewer: Paula Small
Posted: June 15, 2007

* * * * * *

From start to finish, I never stopped laughing or gasping as I turned each page of John Dahlgren’s FINNEGAN’S PARISH & OTHER STORIES. Dahlgren’s short stories, four of them in total, carried me through history and time without losing me along the way.

>Sit down and make yourself comfortable. A drink, perhaps? Yes, of course. Sharon, bring the young lady a Southern Comfort – a large one, because it’ll need to last a long time – and I’ll have another Daiquiri. Thank you.

So began the short titled “Rejuvenilities” and the easy familiarity between narrative character and reader followed throughout the book. Dahlgren framed each story within biting satire and a bit of Devil’s Advocate. Indeed, one of the stories, “Finnegan’s Parish” questioned the validity of religions by lampooning the zealots of today’s religions, but had a deeper question, “Is there anything worse than anarchy?”

Dahlgren’s ability to include satire naturally in the dialogue between characters was one of the highlights of this collection. During an interview scene in “Dr. Knickerbacker”, the interview wove through the usual “getting to know you” sequence, before there was a brief discussion about world affairs.

The world is full of those who would deceive you by weaving cloth of lies and deception and mental sleights of hand, so that you think something genuine is there when in fact there’s nothing.

Like Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction?

Or the so-called ‘theory’ of Intelligent Design. Yes.

The final short story “The Next Door Clandestine” was the perfect ending to this treat of stories. I began to question human nature and my nature, as I related easily to the Skeffingtons. This tale reminded me of “The ‘Burbs” starring Tom Hanks, because the neighbors in this story were anything but neighborly. Or were they?

In each story, there were flirtatious and sexy storylines, but nothing worthy of an R-rating. He subtly laid references from one story into another and provoked philosophical and psychological thoughts. No story’s plot or end was predictable.

Dahlgren used his background as a psychologist and the Swedish literary backdrop of fairytales and fables to create stories that amused me and tickled more than my funny bone. His plots did not overwhelm me with words and scenes just for writing’s sake. He carefully chose his words, developed his characters and explored theories and that greatly impressed me.

I would highly recommend anyone needing to take a break from the humdrum of reality to journey to Dahlgren’s world in FINNEGAN’S PARISH & OTHER STORIES.

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Copyright Info

Finnegan's Parish & Other Stories, John Dahlgren, June 2006

Review © Paula Small, 2007

Segments quoted from this review must give credit to both the reviewer--Paula Small and The review may not be resold or re-distributed in any manner without express, written consent from the reviewer and/or

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