“Most novels begin their lives as short stories. Writing, much like any gift, skill, habit, or hope, is strengthened through practice, training, and exercise. The short story is the stretching and dedication to a running regime long before the marathon. It is the repetition of scales on the piano, years before the recital.” – David-Michael Harding
The Cats of Savone is an exemplary collection of stories from the pen of historical fiction author David-Michael Harding. Eight short stories and novellas make up his first installment in The Completely Abridged Series – Short Novels for Busy People. The title story is the PEN International Winner, The Cats of Savone, which follows a pregnant cat beneath a mammoth steel gate into the exercise yard of the Savone Correctional Facility. The hardened convicts in the maximum security prison adopt the cat as much as she adopts them. But an accident in the prison leads to murder and a host of tough choices for tough men – inmates and guards.
Black Men in Bright Blue traces the steps of ten-year-old Rachel Justice in 1864 while she explores her father’s plantation in South Carolina. As she learns of slavery beneath the shadow of the Civil War, her secret knowledge of the underground railroad pushes her family and her young mind into decisions none are ready for. Eavesdrop on the captain and crew in Forever Beneath the Celtic Sea as the story follows in the cold wake of the World War I German submarine the U-20, and its deadly encounter with the luxury passenger liner Lusitania in 1917.
The History of West Texas According to Henry Brass sits beside the bed of a of a old soldier, trapper, and patriot who is dying from consumption. He hasn’t lost his sense of humor however as he relates story after story to a young man who cares for him in his last days. Henry lived under most of the six different flags that flew over Texas and weaves wonderful tales for his caretaker whose own agenda is taken up by the old man. Then move from West Texas in the 19th Century to another continent and another time in St. Alden’s where a classic fight between good and evil comes to life on a university campus. An aged Guardian of the campus needs to pass down the secrets of a mysterious silver and the power of goodness to his grandson before night demons put an end to a magical spring and its unique life giving water.
Additional stories provide glimpses into the life of a man who has gone through a lifetime of labels – retarded in the 50’s, handicapped in the 70’s, and now with special needs – Jonny Archer finds himself on an unlikely trip in The Junket. The Jazz Bridge chronicles the history and anniversary of an ordinary bridge in an ordinary town as something extraordinary happens. The collection is rounded out by My Boo Radleyand the high school baseball pitcher who learns lessons from an old fan who the world viewed as a monster.
David-Michael Harding is a life-long writer whose work has appeared in national publications and has been recognized by the international writing community. He is a collegiate writing instructor and former semi-professional football player. His experiences provide readers with well researched, crushing fast-paced action. Most of his days are spent writing from the cockpit of his sailboat, Pegasus, somewhere off the Nature Coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico.
Savone is a hard-core prison. The cat comes to live at the prison. Why read a story about a cat that comes to live at a prison? The truth is, a story about a cat and the effect the cat has on hard-core prisoners may not be enough to draw the reader in. What does pull the reader into the story and then weaves a spell around them is the author’s writing. The writing captivates you and all of a sudden the cat and its role have you within its grasp and the story reaches your heart.
David-Michael Harding writes in such a way that the reader becomes enchanted with the story. He uses the cat and the effect that a kind and gentle animal can have on hard-core criminals; murderers. These animals bring out not only fierce tenderness and loyalty, but also the anger and violence that each of these men harbor down inside; and how the death of an innocent little cat can cause deep enough rage to make a man kill in revenge.
The Cats of Savone is a story about a cat in a prison. There are also more stories in the book and the review, while not mentioning each individual story, is an overall rating of each. The writing is outstanding, and my rating is five stars…
Purchase at Amazon: The Cats of Savone (The Completely Abridged Series)
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.