The First to Disappear
Spaten Duyvil (2016)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (1/17)
“The First to Disappear” by Patty Somlo covers a wide variety of topics in 18 short stories ranging from illegal immigrants to terrorism to the paranormal.
Somlo has utilized her creative journalistic skills to address current, sometime controversial themes in our world today. Each story will have readers pondering, “What would I do?” She has selected a wide variety of characters in all age range and ethnicity. Even though many see stereotypes when initially reading, one cannot avoid the human aspect of their lives.
One such story, “Long Before the Sun Comes Up,” we encounter Khaled, the owner of the California Market, who knows he must beat the larger competitors. To do this he must open earlier and stay later. For him this means often missing out on the small pleasures of life. Gone were the days of walking and enjoying the sun, or thoughts of travel.
Khaled comes across a young man who was lying in a hidden shadow, defenseless and beaten. Even though he tries to help the young man, he gets no response. Hours earlier, Liu had gotten off a grueling fourteen work hour day, fought with his girlfriend and couldn’t find a safe place to park.
Khaled did all he could do and called 911. He was curious about what happened yet at the same time continued with his own life, not giving it another thought, as we are all apt to do.
“The Rug,” introduces us to Saeed, who works as a parking lot attendant. Quite proud of the fact that he had gotten a bargain rug to use for his daily prayers, he never considered the implications it might have if he used it in a dark corner of the parking lot. Even though many who used the lot didn’t know his name or anything about him, they made assumptions. Rumors passed through the hotel that his wife had died, he was homeless, or he was a terrorist. Given the last assumption, someone called the police. How simple it would have been to just ask him what he was doing or who he was.
I enjoyed “The First to Disappear” by Patty Somlo. Her writing is quite different from any I have read. She puts her thoughts out there and makes the reader take a good look inside themselves.