In Suspension: Short Stories + Type Tangents

John C. Tarpey

Publisher: AuthorHouse Pages: 134 Price: (paperback) $14.35 ISBN: 9781728381091 Reviewed: June, 2019 Author Website: Visit »

From the heart of Dublin to Ireland’s rural west end, John C. Tarpey’s In Suspension provides a unique literary journey connecting ten fictional stories through an unusual combination of narrative and graphic design.

Tarpey examines solitary characters’ concerns about the economy, adult sibling rivalry, marital woes, and more. In the opening chapter/story, “Weather,” the author portrays the area’s often harsh climate, which sets the mood for the troubled locals visiting the town pubs. At Maguire’s bar, the Players hold regular court; the Aloof observes quietly from a distance; and the Sub attempts to pass phony bills. Characters reappear in subsequent stories. For example, in “Innocent,” the Sub’s girlfriend, weary of his con artist lifestyle, takes action that unwittingly thwarts the ne’er-do-well’s resolve to repent.

Slowly, Tarpey reveals this community and the influences keeping it afloat. Interestingly, each chapter contains a page of boldly arranged typeface, letters, symbols, and words referring to a particular character or happening. For example, “Hush Now,… FOCUS, { ! }… IT’S SERIOUS…, THE SUIT IS DEPENDING ON EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US” highlights the concerns of bar patrons for an elderly man facing intimidating neighbors. The final chapter/story plays heavily into the design theme via another character who fears corporate money-making is compromising his graphic artist career.

Tarpey’s literary style (e.g., the narrative notes that the Irish weather “will play you like a tumbleweed on a hot deserted highway and dismiss you faster than a scarecrow’s smile”) can be complex and takes getting used to, but readers will soon acclimate, and the author uses welcome humorous touches, as when a character delivering meals on wheels provides a raucous ride-along for visiting tourists.

In Suspension offers a glimpse into the lives of dispirited individuals, buoyed by human interaction. Although the writing is intricate, those who enjoy intimate character portraits with the added complement of typographic mosaics— described as “music for the visually adventurous”— will find this slim literary package an enticing read.

Also available in hardcover.

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