Novelty, Bloom and Shine
by Charles Lapine
Trafford Publishing

"Existence is suffering. Let's end the suffering. If there is any good, it doesn't last long. The novelty of a first love, the bloom of a flower, the shine of a new car—it all fades away."

Charles Lapine's collection of seven short stories is an interesting mix of prose that offers commentary on the value of life, friendship, truth and death. In the opening story, "The Pill," Lapine presents a twist on what is commonly known as "the pill" today for birth control. Here, with dark humor, he highlights women's rights and the sacrifices made when it comes to choosing a family or beauty. The pill is now a miracle drug that offers what many women desire: eternal youth. But it comes with a price and the price is a life without children. The mental anguish of this decision finally takes its toll on Jamie, who looks thirty but is now fifty-nine in reality. While she sees her visible eternal youth and beauty, she knows it is all superficial and still feels terribly empty on the inside. "There was no reversing the inability to have a child; she made her choice, and now it was too late. While the pill did just what it promised, slowing the aging process to a crawl, there was no pill to fight the emptiness of being childless."

"Ann Gate" examines the bond of soldiers—both male and female—in the fog of war. A lifelong promise of silence is broken when Ann dies and Tom finally reveals to his wife what Ann did for him during his deployment in Iraq. "Life Takes" offers a compelling twist on the need for revenge for the loss of a loved one. And "To the End of the Earth" reminds us of the preciousness of life on this planet.

Each story examines the spectrum of human emotions, reminding us of the fleeting moments we have to enjoy something before it is lost forever. Some are dark and sad; some are dark and humorous. They will make you stop and think and appreciate something about yourself and your place in this world.

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