“NeXt” by Lance Manion

The concept of the “fourth wall” comes from the theatre, where an actor breaks out of the play and speaks directly to the audience, severing their emotional connection to the story. Lance Manion, by his own proud admission, is a “bubble breaker from way back.” He glories in stepping out of his behind-the-scenes role as author and becoming a performer in his own little drama.

As you might expect with consciously off-the-wall humour, some of the stories fall rather flat, and some of the ideas don’t go anywhere that hasn’t been dredged before. And then along comes one called (for no apparent reason) “The Sterile Variety,” and all is well again.

A story with the uninspiring title of “Overheard Baggage” demonstrates a skillful juxtaposition of — if you can believe it — orbital physics and social interaction to explain the party pickup attempt. “The Car” could be a normal poem, metaphoric as it is. And in “Father’s Day” Manion is downright touching in spite of himself.

On the other hand, the author should perhaps think about the Big Lie technique as he tells us over and over what a poor writer he is; that schtick gets tired fast enough we might start to believe it.

And don’t forget to read the “About the Author” at the end. It contains the most truthful premise in the whole book.

If he means it.

Quirky, creative humour. Recommended for people tired of all the usual stuff they read

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


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