Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Hotel des Mutilées, by Jim Williams

"The Hotel des Mutilées," by Jim Williams, in Knife Edge Anthology, Marble City Publishing, 2013.

Earlier this week I read a review written by a man who normally deals with nonfiction.  This piece was about a novel and he ended with a variation of that phrase so familiar from fifth grade book reports: "To find out what happens next you will have to read the book."

I shook my head at that amateur effort, but now I am feeling some sympathy.  I can't tell you much about this excellent tale by Jim Williams without giving away the store.  So forgive me if I keep it brief.

It's Paris between the wars and our narrator meets an American in a bar who says he is a writer.  The narrator explains that he fixes situations, no details given.  The writer, who calls himself Scotty, asks him to talk about the most fascinating person he ever met.  So the fixer talks about a guy he met in World War I.

And that's where I have to stop, lest I say too much.  This is one of the stories where the joy comes in figuring out what's going on.  For me, the enlightment came in three distinct bursts, about three different characters.

To find out what happened... oh, you know.

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