Big Hominid Reviews The Bottomless Bottle of Beer
"Watching . . . always watching"
Kevin Kim (aka Big Hominid) reviews The Bottomless Bottle of Beer on Amazon, awarding my little book five golden stars:
Well and carefully written in a calm, deliberate, professorial-but-humorous tone, this charming short story is a pastiche of cultural and literary references that chronicles the arc of a thirsty soul in jeopardy. Imagine making a deal with the Devil and signing a contract--in blood--for that one perfect bottle of ever-flowing beer! If you realized your error and desired to escape the contract, whom would you engage as your lawyer if not the courtly-but-formidable Daniel Webster himself?Thanks, Kevin, for taking the time to re-read and re-view this wayward story of mine. I appreciate your very positive review, and your use of "perichoretic" has increased my vocabulary, so I will intercede for you on Judgment Day.
The universe of this adventure is peopled with characters from other stories, which is enough to make one wonder about the characters' ontological status: how real are these fictions? And speaking of ontological status: the trial at the end of the story features the Devil in at least three roles that all function simultaneously in the courtroom: defendant (Em), justice (Belial), and counsel (Beelzebub). What are we to make of the Devil's attempt at splitting himself in three? Is this supposed to be an unholy trinity? If so, it seems to operate in a fascinatingly disharmonious manner, as Justice Belial strives for objectivity while the infernal defendant and his counsel are at pains to make their case. There's nothing perichoretic about our diabolical Three-in-One.
This and other fascinating ideas float freely through the plot, which is also liberally sprinkled with wordplay both subtle and not-so-subtle. Alas, some of the literary references flew right over my head (I've never read Bulgakov, for instance), but this detracted nothing from my enjoyment of Dr. Hodges's tale. Engaging and not for mental slackers, "The Bottomless Bottle of Beer" is an appealingly weird, borderline psychedelic tour of the moral landscape--a story that will resonate with astute readers of all persuasions. Joseph Campbell would have been delighted by the cast of characters, and he would have reveled at the way in which famed artist Terrance Lindall brings Dr. Hodges's story to full mythological flower with his powerful, evocative illustrations.
One thing, though, I'd reword a phrase you used - from "this charming short story" to "this charming short novella" - since it's actually rather long for a 'short' story, and clocking in at more than 20,000 words, it's above the minimum for a novella.