The Lizard and Other Stories probes hearts in conflict. Love and the frailties of existence are the obsessions of this collection. The stories showcase absurdity, humour and tremendous sensitivity.
Culminating with a post-9/11 trilogy, these stories move from the startling present to the outer reaches of mythological time. They include a retelling of The Book of Job featuring thatmost traditional trickster, Crow. A confessional adulterer. Some magic pills. A son’s awkward advice for his father. And a small reptile that keeps his host up at night and his girlfriends on edge.
As one character says after a nearby building explodes: “Life is a strange and multi-glorious thing.” Michael Bryson’s The Lizard and Other Stories reminds us of the gift of good storytelling – and the bright spark when comedy and tragedy collide.
Michael Bryson’s stories have appeared in literary magazines and anthologies for over a decade. He is the author of two previous collections, Thirteen Shades of Black and White (Turnstone Press, 1999) and Only A Lower Paradise (Boheme Press, 2000). He is the founding editor of The Danforth Review, an online magazine that focuses on the short story and Canada’s small presses. His website is Strongly Worded Yoga.
The lizard was at it again.
It wasn’t exactly a lizard, Lenny knew.When he was six Susan had urged him to swallow a salamander (“Whole! No chewing!”) and before she could count one, two, three, he’d gulped down the creature, bulging eyes and all. For twenty years the ghost of the salamander had come alive while he slept. It crawled around the outside of his stomach and pressed against his lungs. Lenny let out deep, pain-filled groans in his sleep.
Every woman he’d ever slept with (except Susan) left him within two weeks. Last year he’d managed to maintain a relationship with Elantra, a married neighbour, for seven months because he limited their time together to a couple of hours every Sunday afternoon. They cuddled, caressed, sucked and he was careful not to nap. Even when her husband was out of town he refused to sleep with her. She thought he was being cautious, considerate. Then once he nodded off after a session of sloppy lovemaking and woke to find a note on her pillow. “Now I know the real you.” He never heard from her again.