from the catalog: publishing genius

So I read Six Off 66 by David Daniel today. I took it with me to get my wife's car inspected so we could get new tags on it. I stood in the waiting room at the gas station and read the book straight through. I did not put it down. I could not stop reading it. There was a crazy woman in the gas station talking about UFOs and about how pretty the stars are at night. She came up to me to say something and I leaned away a little so I could keep reading. I could not stop reading. I was sad when I finished the book. It was so short!

The book is tiny, nicely made. Adam did a nice job making this book, and he also did a clever job. The book is exactly 66 pages long. I liked this. It felt appropriate for a book like this. The cover has a graphic of a red tree on it. The tree is growing out of the letter 'O' in the word 'Off.' There is something very menacing about the cover. It is a simple cover, but menacing. I want to make some statement about how the cover is similar to the kind of stories in the book. Maybe a metaphor. Or something.

There are six stories in the book, obviously. 

I am not doing a good job explaining things.


I liked the stories in the book. I know that much. I liked that they seemed very calm. But there are certain moments in the stories when that sense falls away. Or when it disappears for a while and then returns towards the end. Daniel doesn't seem to worry about writing a story that 'means' something. The first story, "The Thing In The Road," just tells about a thing, some weird animal, that a trucker finds in the middle of the road. The story reminded me of folklore, of mountain stories, of country myths, but the scary, menacing kind. The story begins and ends with the thing - the thing appears and then just as quietly it disappears. There is no worry over 'meaning' and that sort of thing.

I like that Daniel did not set out to write a story about a 'thing' on the road, a story that tried to answer some question: what was the thing? etc. The thing's relationship with it's mother or something. We never know what the thing was. We know only that it might have had two or three eyes, no one could really tell because the children poked in one of the eyes with a stick. I liked this. I liked not knowing what the thing really was. I wanted to go with it. I went with it. I don't think other readers would have liked this. Someone in workshop would have written: okay, show us the thing, don't tell us about it - what was it anyhow?

There is another story in here that really seems to mirror the first one. It is the second story. It is called "Collecting." I really liked this story a lot. It has more of a concrete beginning and end to it than the thing story (there is an event that sets off Ed's weird behavior - he has a realization at the end about his weird behavior which somehow causes him to put a stop to it), but it is still a seemingly calm sort of story that develops into a mean, terrifying story. Menacing. Ed menaces me. The terrifyingness of the story is there all along, I mean, Ed's capability for violence, but like the thing story, it takes some time before it surfaces.

And just as quickly as it surfaces, it is gone. No explanation, really. Daniel knows he doesn't have to explain it. He has smart readers. He has readers who are not lazy. He has readers who don't care about that sort of thing.

Read this book. I am done thinking. I am bailing out of this post. Sorry.