Book Review: Something Went Cold
Reviewed by Toni Woodruff
A fearless story collection aimed at big topics and big names
Something Went Cold comes in at a breezy 160 pages. While it might be a quick read of just five short stories, it covers a universe. Historical fiction, science fiction, literary fiction, adventure fiction, the paranormal—with a wide-sweeping approach to his storytelling, Reschke holds nothing back in his journey through the short form.
You can expect variety when you peel open Something Went Cold. Stories include those about a young sex-worker geared on revenge, Hitler as a ghost, a human vs. nature adventure through the Serengeti, a school shooting, and Ted Williams’ return after being frozen for years. While the themes and stories vary, one thing is for certain: you’re going to get your full of rich and relevant detail in this one.
The details, sentence execution, and the nuts and bolts of Reschke’s writing are undoubtedly the strongest features of Something Went Cold. It’s not easy to show you’re in command of the prose in stories requiring so much specificity and fact-checking, but the author does it here flourishingly. While the historical details of Hitler and Ted Williams asks a lot from the author, it’s “On the Serengeti, Nothing Is Wasted” that ends up being Reschke’s shining achievement:
“One female [hyena] walked off with half of Charlton’s arm, and as [she] snapped her jaw open for a better grip, the hand almost seemed to wave at them.”
I like a whole lot of what this Serengeti story has going for it. The details are strong and the writing is pleasing—that much is almost always true in this collection—but the truths of the story are what leaves me most satisfied. We’re constantly reminded of the ways in which we are out of control in the life of the story, how at any point, the natural world can come swooping in to end everything The characters are up against some pretty insurmountable obstacles, and it’s thrilling to guess just where Reschke plans to take us with it.
Next in line in story effectiveness comes “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived,” about Ted Williams’ return. This one showcases some clever worldbuilding in a utopia I’d happily stay in for the length of a novel.
The other three stories tackle the biggest topics—#MeToo, Hitler, and a school shooting—but with these heightened political and historical stakes come a need for even more effective stories. This is why I feel a bit let down by them. If we’re going to take such big swings, I’d really like to leave the story feeling glad that the author inserted himself into the conversation. The #MeToo revenge story doesn’t add much beyond the concept of Promising Young Woman, the Hitler character could have been substituted with just about any other human, and the school shooting story asks some questions that just don’t hit the right way, particularly involving how to look at the shooter sympathetically vs. the victims.
Something Went Cold runs the gamut of genres, themes, and ultimately, story effectiveness. It’s a quick read unafraid of tackling big topics. If you’re in the mood for some sharp and thought-provoking sentences, you might find what you’re looking for with this one.
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Genre: Short Story Collection
Print Length: 160 pages
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