Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Short Story/Humor
Approximate word count: 5500-6000 words
Availability Kindle: YES Nook: NO Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon or B&N store
Vincent Zandri is a bestselling novelist in two genres, hard-boiled thrillers and romantic-suspense. The New York Post described As Catch Can, his romantic-suspense novel, as “Brilliant.” An essayist and freelance photojournalist, Zandri’s work has been in many publications around the globe.
Giovanni “The G-Man” Gelati is a blogger and host of Blogtalk radio show The GZONE. Gelati is a writer, but not an author, at least he wasn’t until now.
Inspiration for this collaboration came from two directions. The first was an experiment Gelati did on his Blogtalk radio show. In short, one Friday night Gelati’s guest picked a person, place, and thing. Then, four different authors around the world took a turn adding to a short story centered on those words. On Saturday afternoon two other authors read the story on air and shortly after the collaboration was published for the Kindle.
Cue Katherine Lahart, a fan of both authors, graduate student, and author-to-be. Lahart called in when Zandri was a guest on The GZONE and suggests the two collaborate. The wheels started spinning and they came up with the idea of switching back and forth about every five hundred words. (Five hundred words are about the length of a typical blog post, Gelati should be able to pull that off.) In addition, Zandri and Gelati recruited Lahart to write the forward of their work.
If you’ve ever played the game where one person starts a story and after a minute or two passes off to the other, you’ll have the spirit of this collaboration. You’re never sure where the story is going to end up. Each participant has the challenge of taking the story the direction they want it to go, while staying consistent with what has come before. In many ways this book is like that, except one of the participants has proven his storytelling ability and the other has shown he can put words together.
All right, I’ll stop busting Gelati’s chops and admit he can tell a good story too.
Down Low Dead is fun, just like that game because you don’t know where they’re going to end up; neither did they. It’s full of laughs (unless you’re Mrs. Gelati who takes a little lighthearted abuse). I’d have had a fun time reading it even if I didn’t know how it was produced.
Collaborations like this have a second level of entertainment value beyond the story. This second level allows one to see the seams. Previously I mentioned that the craftsmanship in good flash fiction is a draw that extends beyond the stories. Knowing the concept, and being able to tell which section each author wrote, allows you to admire the gamesmanship as each maneuvers the other to make himself look good and the other not, as each of the dueling writers take the story the direction they want it to go. Well played, gentlemen.
Originally, this collaboration was titled The Gang that Couldn’t Kindle Straight, an homage to Gelati’s favorite eReader and Jimmy Breslin’s classic novel, The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight. Amazon was having none of that. “The powers that be have found our title unacceptable,” according to the email I received from Gelati. “Apparently they own the rights to a verb that others have used since the dawn of man,” Gelati stated.
Gelati liked how this turned out so much he decided to search out other victims. He’s labeled this volume one of The Author’s Lab/Collaboration. A second volume, The Jersey Shore has Eyes, a collaboration between Gelati and Big Daddy Abel, is also available in the Kindle store with more to follow.
I reviewed based on what I think (at least I hope) was an advance copy. If not the rush to publication needed to be delayed long enough for another set of eyes to proofread.
Rating: **** Four stars