Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs
February 11, 2016
Reviewed by Brian James Lewis
Hello again dear readers, I’d like to start today’s review with a question: Have you ever read a book that is so powerful and connects with you on so many levels, that you feel like you already know the author? As a writer and book reviewer, I certainly read a lot of great books. Enough books in fact, that I can honestly scratch my head at those who try to insinuate that reading is “hard” and/or “boring.” While they may not be bad people per se, those individuals aren’t going to get along with me and vice versa. So why screw around with those shitbirds? As a person who grew up in a highly mobile fashion, the only real relaxing place, one that showed permanence, was the library. Reading books gave me somewhere to go. I could leave the neighborhood full of bullies and ruined war veterans behind when I dove between the covers of a book. Add in some music and I had everything I needed. Good stuff!
Well that was one hell of a buildup, wasn’t it? But, I’m excited because I just finished reading Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs by Israel Finn. I knew this collection of short stories was going to be good, but less than halfway through it was apparent that I was holding a book by a truly great writer. Finn’s stories have muscles and soul. They tackle important issues that we should all be thinking about and not ignoring with our technologically isolated brains. He shows us ourselves and snippets of others, but mostly he bares his soul. It ain’t pretty because it’s not supposed to be. Israel Finn’s stories crash through the dead walls and divisions the world has tried to build between classes. These stories may be fiction, but even fiction carries a lot of truth. Life doesn’t always offer perfect choices, so it’s nice to be able to escape into a book.
Man, these stories are so good that I don’t know where to start. Maybe a leap right into the middle of things is best? Here we go! STONES is a story about where we might be in the post-apocalyptic future and if things go the way of Finn’s story, many folks are going to be in for some severely difficult times. The rather unenlightened America we live in imposes a certain model that we’re all supposed to meet. We should be heterosexual, monogamous units with 2.5 children, 2 cars, one house and a bunch of other unimportant shit that really has nothing to do with love or true happiness. Our elders often pressure us in that direction and show us that those who don’t follow “the rules” deserve our hatred. In fact, they really should be eliminated if at all possible. “It’s the right thing to do” they tell us. Oh yeah? What if that’s all wrong when we get to the future? People will be reduced to living hand to mouth, every day a fight to survive. Many buildings are destroyed, gone. Gas powered vehicles are a thing of the past and fuel is hoarded for generators. When every day could be your last, pleasures like sex are important. But making more people will stress an already fragile ecosystem beyond its limits. The solution? Same sex relationships ONLY! No birth control required and you should have a decent idea of how all the equipment works, right? STONES blew me away-There’s so much going on that you’re really going to want to read this for yourself!
The average criminal wants one thing-to keep doing what they’re doing and not get caught. While many of them are familiar with jail and prison, they aren’t there because they want to be. So when Eddie Merrick makes a mistake that could put him behind bars immediately, he makes a run for it. Anything has to be better than going to prison, right? Plus this was going to be his last job! But it’s Halloween, a night when anything can and will happen. So when Eddie’s simple car theft accidentally morphs into murder, he knows that the he needs to be far, far away. So he tries to run away from his troubles, but ends up in the worst trap ever. Over My Dead Body asks the question: How much justice is enough? Punishment is one thing, but is torture excusable? Then again, what would you do if someone killed your sister?
As we reach the end of this review, it’s only right that the last story we visit is DEATHBED. This is a difficult story to discuss without revealing too much and I don’t want to be a spoiler. I will say that I’ve been in a similar situation, but it was the ones who remained living that got my carefully composed speech. This one starts off one way and then a twist turns it right side up. Well done, Mr. Finn!
The stories in Israel Finn’s collection Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs are all amazing. Each one is different and perfectly developed. The author never runs over. He says what he wants to say with just the right amount of detail. That is a very difficult feat. Many musicians talk about some of the most important notes being the ones you don’t play. Finn understands that balance and delivers a 5 Star performance that readers will be able to enjoy over and over again when they peruse their bookshelves for just the right story. This book has already found a home on my “Wall of Fame” and I highly encourage you to pick up your own copy of Dreaming At The Top Of My Lungs from your favorite bookseller. It is currently available at Amazon.com, where you can follow Israel Finn. Want to know more? Check out his website www.israelfinn.com or connect with him on Twitter @Israel_Finn. Whatever you do, NEVER STOP READING!