by Chris Helvey
Livingston Press-University of Alabama
December 30, 2017
reviewed by Brian James Lewis
The book I want to talk about today is Snapshot which was written by a fine fella by the name of Chris Helvey. He’s an award winning writer with a good number of books out including a great collection of short stories titled Claw Hammer that I highly recommend to anyone who wants to read some real solid writing that engages your brain while dragging your heart along for the ride. Helvey writes books about the true America. This is what happens between folks who are struggling along to make ends meet and find love, or at least some kind of reason for their existence. But since this isn’t a review of Claw Hammer, let’s get back to the latest and greatest from author Chris Helvey.
Snapshot starts off in a pure, simple way that might remind you of Hemingway, Steinbeck, or Kerouac. Helvey puts you right there with Eddie Burke as he walks out of the Kentucky coalmine where he works and runs smack into Turp Lawson on his way home. They aren’t friends, nor does Eddie want things to go there. But Turp forces himself on Eddie and asks for a favor. Since it seems harmless enough and Eddie doesn’t want to be stuck up, he approves. But that’s kind of unfortunate, because it isn’t long before Eddie’s good deed flings him into a mess of the blues.
Even what might seem like a kindness trips Eddie up when he goes to Turp’s place for supper and ends up with a whole lot more than he bargained for. Seems that Marta, Turp’s attractive wife, thinks lonely, divorced Eddie needs some cheering up and before he knows it they’re operating on a clandestine basis. Meanwhile, ol’ Turp keeps leaning on him harder for support and Eddie is thinking that he must’ve walked into an outhouse head first. Things come to a head the night that the boys get to drinking. Despite Eddie’s warnings, Turp buys his shine from a questionable source and drinks way too much of it, turning a mellow drinking party into a big old mess. Things spiral wildly out of control with horrible results that leave poor Eddie holding the shitty end of a stick that he would never have grabbed in the first place, except for kindness.
I guess that I don’t want to get much deeper than that into things. This is a story that deserves to be told by its author and eaten nice and fresh like fried squirrel. What I will say is what a great book Snapshot is and one you won’t walk away from untouched. Even in what appear to be simple places, life can get complicated in a hurry. When a person changes, regardless of whether they initiated the change or not, things cannot stay the same. Eddie wrestles with that a lot and is left with 20/20 hindsight about how a man he didn’t really want to know had such an impact on his life.
Snapshot isn’t a straight-on horror novel full of monsters and such. Yet, as William Quincy Belle pointed out, what is more terrifying than our everyday existence? One only has to check out the news to see that man is capable of doing horrible things. Chris Helvey’s writing makes you think on that a little and that’s a good thing. “How do I get a copy?” You ask. I was just getting to that. You can purchase Snapshot from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powell’s Books, Livingston Press, and from Chris Helvey himself. You can contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org Let’s support small presses and writers who make a difference!