Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Leanna Hayes reviews Specters in Coal Dust, and my story "Pushing Coal" is one of three selected for extensive comments. She says (spoiler alert!):
A number of the stories actually have (relatively) happy endings. I was surprised. From the cover and from the synopsis, I was expecting people dropping right and left with coal dust flying everywhere.

An example of one of these stories is “Pushing Coal” by Michael Bracken. “Pushing Coal” takes place in 1957. The story is about a coalmine collapse in Montrose county and is told from the eyes of a journalist fresh out of high school. The story in itself is quite depressing. We learn of the narrator’s family history, how he feels about not working in the mine like the rest of his family, how he deals with his sister, whose husband, Cole, is stuck and probably dead like everyone else. Body after body is pulled, and there’s lots of tears, until finally, Cole is pulled from the rubble. Alive. He tells his story, how he was rescued even though, technically, no one else is supposed to be down in that part of the mine. We learn that the souls of miners who died in a previous collapse (children, no less), saved Cole from his impending doom. When his picture is taken, the narrator finds that, after developing the film, the dead miners are actually supporting him so that he can stand.

Needless to say, that’s the softest story in the entire book.
She closes her review with:
If you want to be thoroughly freaked out, I’d suggest getting your hands on this collection. I don’t, however, suggest reading it in cold, dark places.
Specters in Coal Dust can be purchased directly from the publisher here.

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