Miranda by John R. Little
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John R. Little was born in London, Canada, and started writing short stories at the age of twelve. The stories he wrote at the time are not memorable.
His first novel, The Memory Tree, was published by Nocturne Press in 2007. It was nominated for the Bram Stoker award for best first novel.
Publisher: Bad Moon Press (January 1. 2008) Print length: 109 pages Formats: ebook, paperback
I picked Miranda on a whim. It was a lazy day, and I was browsing the virtual horror shelves, looking for something new to read. The cover caught my eye – it’s not exactly pretty, but I like eerie images like this. I also learned that it had won the Bram Stoker Award (Long Fiction) in 2009 – I knew I had to give it a chance.
As I started reading, I found myself immediately pulled into the story. Little’s writing style is masterful, drawing you in with each sentence and never letting go. The characters are complex and well-developed. What really sets Miranda apart is its use of the concept of aging backward.
“I was 65 when I died. Well, un-died would be more accurate, wouldn’t it?
I remember the heart attack shocking me to life. Then the pain disappeared, and I was here.”
The protagonist’s first memory is of his death, and he lives his life backward while everyone else experiences it in the usual direction. But it’s more than just aging. He remembers his future, but not his past. People talk forward, but he hears backward (at least initially). He can’t form lasting relationships. Think about it. He’d meet people at the end of their time together. They’d be strangers to him, but they’d know him inside and out. And by the time he would get to know them, they would wander off, not caring about him at all.
Things change when he meets Miranda, a backtracker like him. But good things can’t last. This novella (110 pages) is powerful, intellectually stimulating, and emotionally moving. Little’s clear and concise writing conveys a great deal of emotion and avoids unnecessary scenes or wordiness.
Overall, Miranda is a must-read for fans of weird fiction and stunning, poignant writing. John R. Little has crafted a haunting tale that will stick with you long after you turn the last page.