FOUR D is a collection of four stories by Gregory Morrison that I would describe as speculative fiction.
While the author is a talented writer with a bright future, reading FOUR D was a painful experience for me. There were times of absorption as I groped for understanding, times of interest, especially in the first story, but most of the time I was perplexed, much as the first readers of Edgar Allen Poe’s “Murders in the Rue Morgue” or readers of, say, Albert Camus’ works must have felt.
In his opening remarks, the author tells us that the hero “lives in a world of disappearing people and objects, which might or might not be important.”
It was the phrase, “might or might not be important” that puzzled me. After reading the book, however, I decided that FOUR D was a wild ride inside of a mind gone feral, and that whatever meaning could be squeezed from the words, derived from such a tragicomic experience, but that meaning did not reside in the words themselves. Put another way, the author seems to be saying that there is no meaning, only life devoured by meaninglessness—what the author calls “space” in the first short story.
Some of my favorite works have a character similar to the protagonist in FOUR D, but there is always a foil, someone with a rational mind, a character of equal weight, but a lucid, caring, flesh and blood character, one who lends perspective. I didn’t see any such character in any of the stories so as a reader I felt like I was drowning.
At times FOUR D had a wry humor:
My mother sent me an apple pie with a card. “I’m scared,” it said. What does she mean? I’m scared too! She saw something else. Her phone stopped working, and now we are writing letters to each other. “How are you?” “Making a soup.” “I’m ashamed.” She mentioned the crow that had disappeared in front of her while flying by. It was the biggest event in her life; mine will be tomorrow.
Gregory Morrison has great promise. He writes in English, a language that is not his mother tongue and this in itself is an amazing feat. But while there were times of clarity and humor, in the end, FOUR D did not work for me because of its repetitive narrative, much of which could have been cut, because of its sometimes stiff language: what little dialogue it contained was cumbersome, for example, this telephone conversation, location 1688:
“Hi, Bob!” “Hi, Luidgi, how are you? Everything all right?’ Bob had some worry and care in his voice. They all already know that we have split up, Luidgi was guessing. “Everything is just fine!” he answered. “Do you know what day it is?” “He’s busy; you know him. We are meeting in a restaurant called ‘P.’ I’ll text you the address.” “See you later, Bob.”
I applaud the author for attempting something radical. With revisions FOUR D could be cutting edge, but for me this edition falls short. I would recommend it for the reader interested in speculative fiction.
Note: there are some grammatical errors that were overlooked in the edition I read. In two places “sell” was used to refer to cell phone, and the following, location 224: “She changed her underwear and pulled her hear back with a hair band.”
My Rating: 3 Stars
About the Author: Gregory Morrison is originally from the Ukraine and works as a script writer and author. He has written scripts for short films such as “Stain Remover” and “Frankie Said Relax.” In his free time, he likes traveling, spending time with friends and is an amateur photographer. Morrison currently lives in London.