Wednesday 4 October 2017

When I Die - Barry Lyga - A Short Story

When I Die: 
A Short Story
Barry Lyga

This is the 10th instalment in Barry Lyga's year of short stories. This year Barry is releasing a new short story each month. He is doing it with a purpose in mind, and that purpose is defending free speech; for he is donating the proceeds of the sales of the short stories to the ACLU. You can read more about why he is doing this on his site. This story is another one that has been adapted from what was originally to have been a comic or graphic novel. With each of the short store is published this year Barry provides an introduction, telling us about the series and why he is doing this. That introduction tends to have a bit about the story and its origins. Then we have the story. And then Barry gives us some insight into the story and how it has held up or changed over time. 

Barry is one of my favorite contemporary authors who has written some incredible books, and amazing series. Both his I Hunt Killers series and his Brookdale High books are excellent reads and books that I have read and reread. With these short stories we are getting to see some of the greater range that Lyga has as an author and a wordsmith. Each month as the first draws near I have been checking and rechecking to see when the new story would be published so I could grab it and read it right away. Of the then release so far Four Minutes and Trading Worlds were the most impactful for me. But the imagery and story of When I Die will linger with me for a long time. In many ways this is a big departure from almost everything else from Lyga I have read. The description for this story is:
"Robert Ogilvy served his country, just as his father and grandfather before him did. There was never any question; never any doubt. 
Then Robert's son is killed during a routine training drill en route to Iraq. Suddenly, Robert questions everything. Suddenly he doubts everything."
In part it is the story of a man who is haunted by his own time in the service. In part he is haunted by the death of his own son in the service. It is a dark story, it is deep and meaningful. It deals with questions of nationalism, and nationalism being put on an altar above God. And it is the story of a tormented man. Since reading this story a few times over the last few days I have thought about friends and family who have served in the military. Both in previous generations, and currently. I have reflected as a father why I sometimes try to get my children to do things. And I have speculated about the spiritual realm. This short story will stir up a lot of feelings and hopefully help begin a dialogue. 

About this story Lyga states:
""When I Die" was inspired, as I mentioned before, by an acquaintance of mine. But it was also inspired by the Bruce Springsteen song "Youngstown," a dirge for Rust Belt America. The nameless narrator recounts how he and his kind have given everything to and for the United States through its many wars, only to be cast aside when convenient for those in power. The song ends: When I die I don't want no part of heaven I would not do heaven's work well I pray the devil comes and takes me to stand In the fiery furnaces of hellThat last bit was what my story needed, I realized. That prayer not for forgiveness or absolution or even understanding, but rather for damnation."
This is a great short story. I am glad that even with it being a bit dated by the contents that it has now come to light. 

For fans of Barry Lyga's work, and fans of short stories are receiving 12 new short stories from His masterful pen are a blessing this year, even if his reason for releasing them is a cause for concern. It started in the fall of 2016 after the US General Election, the next day Barry asked himself what he could do, and he decided to use his words. For as an author words are his craft. And freedom of speech is core to him being able to write about what he wants to write about. He decided to publish a short story each month this year and to donate the proceeds to the ACLU. You can read about why he is doing this on his site

But be warned each story is only available for a month so you need to get it while you can. 

Books by Barry Lyga:
I Hunt Killers:
I Hunt Killers (2012)
Game - I Hunt Killers #2 (2013)

Blood of My Blood - I Hunt Killers # 3 (2014)

I Hunt Killers Short Stories:
Down Time (2018)
Lucky Day (2014)
Career Day (2012)
Neutral Mask (2013)
Blood Boy (2014)

Brookdale High:
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl (2006)
Boy Toy (2007)
Hero Type (2008)
Goth Girl Rising (2009)

Bang (2017)

Archvillain #1 (2010)
The Mad Mask - Archvillian #2 (2011)
Yesterday Again - Archvillian #3 (2013)

The Flash Series:
Hocus Pocus (2017)
Johnny Quick (2018)
Tornado Twins (2018)

Other Books By Barry Lyga:
Graphic Novels in Your Media Center: A definitive Guide (with Alison A.W. Lyga - 2004)
Wolverine: Worst Day Ever (2009)
MangaMan (with Colleen Dorren 2011)

Unsoul'd (2013)
After The Red Rain (2015)
The Secret Sea (2016)
Thanos Titan Consumed (2018)
The Hive (2019)


Short Story Project 2017
The Ghosts at 95
Loving The University
The Ideas of March
Four Minutes
Pulse vs. the Killing Fiend
Her Decade
The Life Cycle of Stars (Ignition)
Trading Worlds
When I Die
The Autopsying of Michael Edward Morgan
Meet Me Tonight

Contributed to:

Geektastic (2009)
Who Done It? (2013)

Author Profile and Interview with Barry Lyga

Author Profile and Interview with Randall Banner

No comments: