Written by: Matt Molgaard
Chad Lutzke’s short, One for the Road is an interesting piece. Immediately, I became wary, the simple fact being the content, which centers on zombies. You all know I hate zombies like I hate the idea of a sexually transmitted disease. But I like Chad a lot. He comes across as a nice guy with a good attitude. And when we needed help keeping our facebook page up to date, Chad was more than willing to step into the role that the always awesome, James Keen recently vacated. I owe Chad a little respect and a little time. If I can repay that debt reading a novel, novella, short story or graphic novel, I’m winning.
Unfortunately for Chad, I’m also as honest as I can be. Which means no blindingly bright review from me. The rating took a hit right when I saw the ‘z’. And it takes another slight hit due to a few moments that feel a little less than liquid, some phrasing that – in my opinion – could have been delivered a bit smoother. There are just a few sequences that lack fluidity and finesse, and while they don’t leap from the page, they’re detectable.
As I see it, those are the negatives of One for the Road. The positives, this first one in particular, earn big points from me. I found the story engaging, and so focused on one singular angle, told from the perspective of one awfully conflicted grandson who’s got concerns over a member of the undead that’s too close for the liking, in more than a single way, that it was really easy to make it through the story without running directly into a dozen of the clichés we encounter in (literally) every zombie novel out there. Lutzke uses words where needed and leaves the filler to others. That too goes a long way in my book.
At 19 pages, I’d rather not spoil the details, but I will tell you this: The story is well contained, clear in concept and pretty well told. The first person delivery helps pull the reader in and the generally believable (once you get beyond the overall crux, which isn’t usually going to be all that believable anyway, given the genre we’re discussing here on horror novel reviews) decision making of the narrator are valued qualities. I think Chad may still be looking for his voice, as an author. I just found my own recently, and I continue to hear unique and unexpected nuances I never knew existed, every day. Chad’s work reads like a guy who is in that same place. Wading through ideas and styles, finding the things that really work for him. He’s close, and I’m excited to follow his development.
Give One for the Road a look right here, and check out the trailer for the story below.