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Frank's Book Log

Literature is a relative term.


2017 | Short Story
A cover of Fail-Safe by Philip Fracassi (2017)
C: 3 stars (out of 5)
on Apr 30, 2022

A twelve-year-old boy’s father and other family “friends” have built a chamber in the family basement to contain his mother when she “turns”. One night, things go wrong.

A coming of age story involving a nightmarish family secret. Themes of “men” and “becoming a man” loom large. Good effort, mixed results.

Fracassi hooked me early:

I never heard Mother screaming in the night. I knew she was, it was obvious. I’d seen her with the cameras. Father had made me watch when I was young.

But his later reliance on convenient plotting disappointed:

After a few minutes, I went to the couch that sat against the wall facing the steel door. I sat down, then laid down. I was still very tired. It was the middle of the night. I fell asleep.

The ambiguous ending dovetails with the theme of changes, but didn’t compensate for the low emotional stakes. I never felt invested in the narrator or his plight, only curious. When the ending failed to satisfy said curiosity, it reduced the story to an interesting thematic exercise.

Reading History

    Sat Apr 30, 2022 via Kindle (Behold the Void, Lovecraft eZine Press, 2018)