John R. Little
Necessary Evil Press, Novelette TPB, 74 pages
Reviewed by Bill Gauthier
Even as a writer at the beginning of his career, it’s rare for me to read books or stories that I wish I had written. John Little’s Placeholders is one of those. Let me say right now that I love the novella and novelette formats. Maybe it’s being part of the MTV Generation, I don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, I love long novels, too, but as for writing, at this point in my life, I’ve had a long affair with the novella/novelette. So here comes John Little with Placeholders, in a format that I like, and with a story that, when I finished it, made me curse that he was the one who’d thought it up and had carried it through.
The story is … well … I don’t want to summarize the story. It’s too good and I’d rather you go into the story the same as I, without knowing what the damn thing was about and experiencing the confusion, the love, the compassion, the fear. I want you to experience the sprinkling of the clues, of John’s masterful storytelling abilities as he leads you to the realizations of what’s happening. There are surprises, yes. The one “big” surprise I pretty much guessed before the revelation, but that’s okay, because there were other surprises and, more than that, just purely great storytelling.
Thomas F. Monteleone writes in the introduction, “By writing a story as challenging and original as Placeholders, John Little has steepened the upward curve.” He’s right, of course. I, for one, am glad to have been able to experience the book. It ups the ante for those of us who care about the written word, the phantasmagoric, and being able to not only tell a story but paint a portrait of emotion that runs the gamut in a short period of time.