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Arthur Porges' latest collection of short stories

By James Argendeli
CNN Headline News

"The Mirror and Other Strange Reflections"

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(CNN) -- Do you find it hard getting through a novel without falling asleep? If so, this is the book for you. You may think that reading and short attention spans are mutually exclusive habits ... but read on. The doctor (aka the Book Lizard) is "in" and is ready to see you now.

"The Mirror and Other Strange Reflections," published in November 2002, is a collection of 28 short stories by Arthur Porges. How short are they? They run, on average, a mere six pages.

If that's not enough to grab your attention, then this should: Each of these stories is fantastic. For those who have read and re-read the stories of Ray Bradbury, here is a perfect invitation to enter the wonderfully weird world of Arthur Porges.

Some of the tidbits to get lost in include the wonderful story, "$1.98." In this tale, we have down-on-his-luck Will Howard, who is feeling unlucky in love over the girl of his dreams. While strolling through the woods, feeling sorry for himself, Will saves a field mouse from becoming a weasel's lunch. But this is no ordinary mouse. No, this is a god. A god named Eep. In gratitude for saving his life, Eep grants Will a wish. However, the value of the gift is not to exceed $1.98. After all, Eep is a very small god.

Moving right along, we have back-to-back "deal with the devil" stories. You know the kind. In the immortal words of Don Corleone, "I am going to make you an offer you can't refuse."

In "The Shakespeare Manuscript" a rare book collector named Oldenburg makes what he thinks is an unbeatable deal with a demon to obtain an original manuscript written in the master's own hand. The Cliff Notes version would have been a wiser move.

In "Brilliant Career," Porges gives us a story of an ambitious French lieutenant who craves power in the Musketeers. If only that pesky captain would get out of his way. Poof. Our lieutenant's wish is a sorcerer's command.

Then there is the whimsical horror humor story, "The Fanatical Ford." Think of Stephen King's "Christine" only about 95 percent shorter and instead of one automobile haunting, we have anything with an engine torturing our hapless narrator.

In "The Mirror and Other Strange Reflections," every story is an enchanting escape to forget about your problems while you read about fictional ones.

A quick note on Arthur Porges: He was 36 years old when he sold his first story in 1951 (included in the collection) and at the age of 87, he is still writing strong. Let us hope he has a new collection soon.

"The Mirror and Other Strange Reflections" has been printed in a 500-copy hardback edition by Ash-Tree Press.

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