Written by: Mack Moyer
On the surface, the tales in Savages don’t seem to have much in common. “Long Live The King” is a sad story of an aging African chief ruling over a tribe wherein they slay their king at the first sign of old age. With the regal language, it can be a challenging read at first, but rewarding – and heartbreaking – in the end.
Then Ball gives us “The Deposition.” Anyone who has ever had to sit in front of a disinterested boss on your first day of work can relate, although here Ball shows us the mundanity of demons haunting the dreams of a slumbering schlub.
In “Lunar Seas,” Mr. Ball manages to weave an almost-love story, a futuristic labor struggle, and the mind numbing wellness babble you might hear at work every day – mandatory fitness trackers and nicotine screening tests come to mind – seamlessly into one satisfying short, while also giving us the wonderful image of drunk Russians driving moon buggies.
These short stories, while distinct in tone, voice, and plot, share the futility and pointlessness of our lives. Whether it’s a king fighting his descent into middle age, a luckless worker bee stuck on a mining colony in outer space, or a demon smirking at his own wit just to get through another day in the bureaucracy, Ball’s tales examine this futility in all of its subtle horror, sadness, humor, and beauty.
Aside from the stories themselves, Savages serves as a display of the versatility in Ball’s writing skills. Diverse as these stories are, Ball’s powerful voice comes through with each. Whenever I read a short story compilation I expect that at least one of the stories will be weaker than the rest, or just plain not fit the author’s style. Not so with Savages. Here, Ball shows off literary agility that most writers would kill for and all readers will enjoy.
A very easy 5 stars and a steal at the asking price.