"But You Scared Me the Most (and other short stories)" Book Review

Written by Karin Crighton

Published by Academy Chicago Publishers

Written by John Manderino
2016, 220 Pages, Fiction
Released on June 1st, 2016


John Manderino has captured the fearful, wonderful, strange, and inscrutable experience of being alive. His work But You Scared Me the Most (and other short stories) shares twenty-six vignettes from twenty-six different points of view. Each story is different, but a little the same; sad and curious and sometimes painfully raw.

The magic of Manderino’s work is the keen sense of otherness we all experience when confronted with sudden, acute knowledge of our true selves. In “No Place Like Home”, Arnie feels sorry for the lonely, stunted girl in town who shows her panties for attention. He knows someone has hurt Gloria for her to act in the odd way she does. But his discomfort at her, and his fear that it could happen to him, keep him from befriending Gloria or helping her escape a miserable fate.

In “Nessie”, Manderino reminds us of the time we found that one story or song or image that struck something deep inside but can’t find someone with whom to share the experience. We’re reminded that even our closest friends and siblings grow apart from us and there will be moments when we feel entirely alone. But it’s not without hope; in “Oscar”, a man accidentally runs over a neighbor’s dog. Confronted by the death he’s caused, he finally realizes what life is really worth and finds the courage to be himself, and maybe to be happy.

The stories are a bit brief; I would have like an overarching theme, but I’m sure that’s because I’m stuck on how amazing the Midian Unmade: Tales of Clive Barker's Nighbreed compilation is, but Manderino has a different style and it’s successful in its own way. If you’re in the mood for a pensive, slightly melancholic read, this is the book to pick up.


Overall: 4.5 Star Rating Cover
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