“Stories From Outside the Safe Space” – An Act of Rebellion

People who write do so for many reasons. Some people want to share experiences, something which moved their imaginations; others want to scratch that itch which tells them things are going wrong, and they have the answer; some want to connect, others want to divide, some want to be famous and others are happy with a work of creation that is wholly theirs which might never top the best seller lists of the flavor-of-the-day journals but will be found instead perhaps in a moment of societal stress and serve to instruct on how things went for those who came before – most want to use that oldest of mediums to exercise the demons in their own soul.

“Stories From Outside the Safe Space” was written as an act of rebellion. Rebellion against the nouveau censors and their protracted lists of things we can and cannot say. Those anonymous men with clipboards who decide what is and what is not harmful to societal harmony – that perfectly honed and supervised unit gentle in its diversity and its safety, bent to assure that the weakest minds need never realize their conditions (and, consequently, never get stronger). There is an increasing group of writers who see the ridiculousness of the constraints placed upon society and seek to use their passion to break those new chains; as writers have forever. For to rebel is a story as old as time – as Solzhenitsyn with Gulag Archipelago; as Joyce with Ulysses; as Richardson with Clarissa.

“Stories” is a series of four short stories meant to address four aspects of our new society which the author DW Cook sees as particularly egregious. The cheating – that is the law at the service of social justice which seeks excuses and exceptions just as real justice seeks truth; resentment – that singular motivation which drives people to destroy, a condition as old as the Ten Commandments, recognized twice by God at the top of a mountain in the Sinai as a particularly pernicious motivator to a prosperous society; judging – people who live their lives looking outward at others instead of inside at their own hearts, building their self-worth upon whether or not somebody else said or did (or did not do) something, violating that also old principle of “You do you; I’ll do me”; political correctness – the censors and their lists, destroying the lives of people who dare to think differently and say it (or worse, write it down). Now, the writing itself. Writing “Platform pieces” is particularly challenging. They tend to be preachy and are generally discouraged – because if they exist for the purpose only as a platform for the author’s opinions they often lose out on the glory of the power of the written word. “Stories” was reasonably well written – I liked the space stories most. It is written as “pop fiction”, which is not my favorite genre. I enjoy literary fiction; but I realize I am in the minority here. I prefer a 150 year old Russian novel to Clive Cussler. But Cussler has a big house and a boat – so who am I to say anything? I would recommend to the author to take more time, let the ideas slip more neatly into the story line, like melted butter over toast – invisible except for a shimmer and the salty goodness that improves the experience.

I do applaud the author’s desires to use the medium of fiction – populated by too many utopians – to espouse some of the olden ideas of a life more abundant. So all that said, I encourage you to buy – sales are the fuel of the writer. Unless we provide fuel to those willing to rebel, we may find ourselves all at the mercy of the censors – as if we are not already.

About Joel D. Hirst

Joel D. Hirst is a novelist and a playwright. His most recently released work is "Dreams of the Defeated: A Play in Two Acts" about a political prisoner in a dystopian regime. His novels include "I, Charles, From the Camps" about the life of a young man in the African camps and "Lords of Misrule" about the making and unmaking of a jihadist in the Sahara. "The Lieutenant of San Porfirio" and its sequel "The Burning of San Porfirio" are about the rise and fall of socialist Venezuela (with magic).
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