Lurking in the shadows of the seedy underbelly of the American heartland are the kinds of people you’re probably scared of. The kinds of people you, perhaps, don’t think of often. The kinds of people who just scrape by, praying for lottery-ticket miracles, and Heavenly rewards, and three consecutive days of tranquility and security. People like John Jaggo.
John Jaggo, of course, is long dead. He did, however, come up with an ingenious way to preserve his thoughts about his rough daily life circa 2011-2012—an electronic diary, unearthed by future geologists-cum-psychologists, which becomes the narrative of The Talkative Corpse (CreateSpace, 192 pages) an intriguing novel by Ann Sterzinger.
We peek in on John’s life as he directly addresses future generations (often as “Future” or “You Bastards in Futureland,” and the like) with his missives on everything from love to politics to insane amounts of beer consumption. Jaggo struggles and whines (and whines) mightily through his minimum-wage existence until a projection of his bitterness and anger—is it real? A ghost? A delusion of his beleaguered mind?–appears on the scene in the form of a disgusting animani named Bertram. (An “animani” being loosely defined as a ghost-like demon, sort of.) Bertram haunts the second half of the novel until the explosive and surprising conclusion to the narrative.
Sterzinger’s ability to stretch out the tension of the drama in the novel’s second half is impressive–almost as much as her ability to capture the essence of the minimum-wage life, in all of its frustrating nuances, in the first half of the book. Her ability to capture realistic dialogue is equally impressive. And when the action gets going, you realize she has a keen ability to plot like a devil as well.
All in all, a compelling, quick, and page-flipping read, with deep insights into the mind of a kind of character most often forgotten, or tripped over, in our bling-worshipping society.
–Frank Marcopolos, author of Infinite Ending, 2014
I’ve never been much of a diary writer. But I have always liked reading history (in fact I have a bachelor’s degree in history—with a minor in archaeology and a certificate in accounting—from a shitty public college, for all the good it’s done me), and dear Future, I would like for you to have plenty of it to read as well. And it has come to my attention that lately everyone has been keeping all of their notes for you on a large, fragile electric sheet of papyrus called the Internet.
This won’t do.
The Internet is a hybrid between a library, a tower of Babel, and an imaginary anthill. You go to a special machine and it lets you inside. There is much information and also a lot of useless crap, since unlike a book, anyone can have their say in it.
For your purposes, however, historians of the Future, the problem is not its overall quality, but it insubstantial nature. The Internet might be harder to destroy than the library at Alexandria, but it might also turn out to be much easier. There’s nothing to burn, but someone may pull the plug. Someone may not, but the way things tend to go I don’t think I’m an idiot to prepare for the worst.
You may in fact be in the process of reinventing electricity. Or even fire. Wouldn’t shock me. Because the news sources (there are so many of them now!) mostly seem to think we’re going through a crisis.