Publication Date: June 20, 2014
[easyazon-link asin=”0991542959″ locale=”us”]Justice, Inc.[/easyazon-link] is a collection of playfully irreverent and thought provoking short stories that shine a spotlight on culture quirks and faults.
The author, Dale Bridges, gave me an uncorrected galley of this work in exchange for my review.
The stories in [easyazon-link asin=”0991542959″ locale=”us”]Justice, Inc.[/easyazon-link] were previously published in periodicals, but the way in which they’re brought together makes for a pretty seamless narrative with a beautiful flow. When an author mocks society in the way that Bridges does, the writing can come off as bitter and callow or pretentious and riddled with an implied “you poor stupid fools. You’re all doomed but not me. I’m the only one smart enough to get what’s going on.” Bridges humor is so clever and smart that I believe even my mother, an extremely religious woman, would get a chuckle out of Bridge’s introduction in which God is trying to destroy the fleshy bipeds and failing, hence his prophesies directly to the author of the piece. Maybe this is just me but it is impossible to take offense when a work is just simply so well done. And, oh my dear readers, if one were inclined to take offense they could find much to which to object in [easyazon-link asin=”0991542959″ locale=”us”]Justice, Inc.[/easyazon-link].
The first brilliantly crafted story is titled “Welcome to the Omni-Mart”. In this story we meet a young worker who was sold as a child to the Omni-Mart Corporation and is a Lifetime Service Associate. He has an extreme fear of the outside and has never left the store. His unauthorized love is a young woman whose family lost their farm when synthetic flowers came into fashion, so her family sold her to the corporation. When we meet him, he’s been ordered to liquidate a supply of “Insta-babies”. Can he do it? The poignancy of the obstacles with which the worker lives and his telling choices speak to a life lived out of loyalty and fear. The what-ifs are what haunt us. I loved this story, but as you’ll find reading the review, I loved every story.
In “Texting the Apocalypse”, teenage girls are exchanging texts about how lame nature of the “apokalips”. One tells the other her mom wants her to join a cult that sacrifices newborn puppies to Tom Cruise. “cool. the tom-twinkie cult is the best. suzie is a membr” her friend replies (page 20). The locked in nature of teenagers is conveyed with the extreme circumstance, as the counterpoint for absurdity and it’s brilliant. The story following this somewhat empty headed exchange is the tale of a ditzy woman living in a world where the mean get the zombie virus from heterosexual sex. There’s something of an evacuation and Emily’s friend is trying to convince her to go, but she loves whom she loves and…OH WAIT! Is this social commentary? While this is perhaps my least favorite story in the bunch, rather like pointing out which M&M tastes least yummy.
My favorite story in the book is “Time Warp Café”. It’s perhaps the one story in the anthology that feel most like experimental fiction. Society is taking itself too seriously. Instead of enjoying the Three Stooges, the society of the story analyzes Larry, Curly and Moe. “In a world where no one dies, population control becomes paramount.” (page 45).
The eponymous story might be the most disturbing to some readers. Osama Bin Laden has been cloned for the purpose of execution for the entertainment of the masses. “Most of the employees who work at [easyazon-link asin=”0991542959″ locale=”us”]Justice, Inc.[/easyazon-link] were recruited from the families of 9/11 victims for obvious reasons. Company loyalty is extremely high.” (page 57) Is vengeance at all costs, a special favorite of the American people, the answer?[easyazon-link asin=”0991542959″ locale=”us”]Justice, Inc.[/easyazon-link] is funny, poignant, in your face and interesting. This is perhaps one of the few short story authors for whom I would pay full publisher prices. [easyazon-link asin=”0991542959″ locale=”us”]Justice, Inc.[/easyazon-link] is Dale Bridges first short story anthology.