The Booked. Anthology Review 6: “To the Bone” by Seth Harwood

In every ideal situation, the point of art is to move the audience in one direction or another. Songs are crafted to make stupid teenagers fall in love, even the teenagers that have been married for sixty-some-odd-years. Paintings find new hues of blue to make the viewer feel sad, cold, and alone. Movies are made to have us rolling around on the floor holding our sides with laughter. Unless you’re watching The Guilt Trip. Fuck that movie.

Hard.

Seth Harwood has earned maximum achievement points with “To the Bone,” a brief look into a period of the south when interracial coupling was something of a taboo topic. Because race relations are all better, right? The violence in this story reaches out, grabs you by the collar and pulls you in, making you breathe in what it breathes out. The motivations are nauseating, and I promise, none of this is hyperbolic. I’ve done and said things over the years that I’m not proud of, I’ve witnessed and been a victim of some horrible shit. So, it’s just a harmless short story, no big whoop.

Wrong.

Harwood manages to do in a few pages what life has failed to do on countless occasions. This story rocked me to the core, and honestly, I haven’t been able to look at The Booked. Anthology since. That’s probably something I shouldn’t admit, as it isn’t a selling point. “Fuck this book. You’ll get six stories in and not want to pick it up to read the twenty-something stories afterward.” However, I think that speaks to Seth’s talent. In a few short pages, he made this cold hearted bastard feel something. That’s the mark of an amazing story; an amazing author.

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