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CHOCOLATE PARK - 2004
by Chesya Burke
Published: Undaunted Press
CHOCOLATE PARK is the debut chapbook from up and coming writer, Chesya Burke, and it
reminds us of something we read horror to escape: that true horror exists
all around us. Let's face it, the usual model of a horror novel or
story is to have horror intrude upon the ordinary. You're sitting
around in your middle class life, minding your own business, when suddenly, this "other" barges in from the outside. With CHOCOLATE PARK,
the horror lies as close as what CNN or your local news refuses to cover.
Poverty, drugs, (mis) education all play
into the cycle of horror that exists in those areas of towns that "decent
folk" don't go to.
The ghettos of America.
Yes, these tales do their job, showing true horror in its context, making the reader
uncomfortable, making the reader want to avert their eyes, and parading,
without glamorizing, the horror of human suffering, human misery, human
brutality, and human (bad) choices. These
tales refuse to ignore the fact that we often live in a hell of our own
making. The four stories in this short story collection tells of lives
interconnected by life in the projects its denizens refer to as CHOCOLATE PARK. Chesya adds to the mix an intriguing cast of characters: three sisters, Ebony, who struggles to make ends meet with her job at the phone company;
Coco, a drug addict turned prostitute to chase her next high, and Sable;
the innocent 14 year old, who dreams of going to college.
Torch, the neighborhood drug dealer who earned his street name via his preferred
way of dealing with those who got in his way; and Lady Black, the old
lady who lives amidst the everyday madness.
The stories are little morality plays that illustrate how day to day horror is more
often than not, boiled down to a series of bad choice. Chesya also adds
an element of the supernatural, voodoo, to further stir things up. For
me, her prose style took a little getting used to. Her direct style has
a way of feeling like a lot of information is crammed into these pages.
Of course, that means that her stories move at a break neck pace.
The bottom line is that I liked this book. It works. She tells stories
that are not often enough heard.
This review copyright 2004 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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