Scattershot, Amy L. Eggert
Lit Fest Press, 2015
Reviewed by Lyle Carating
Amy L. Eggert’s Scattershot is absolutely chilling. This collection of poetry and short stories is filled with disastrous, emotionally-charged imagery that kept my attention from the first piece all the way to the last.
In fact, after reading each piece, I felt like stepping outside and going for a walk. Each work affected me emotionally, making me reflect on how bleak life can present itself to some people. For instance, Eggert’s short story “Brick” is about a man whose life completely changes after he was involved in an automobile accident, enabling him to only focus on the cruel aspects of life.
Eggert is careful with her words and repetition, allowing the reader to feel how disturbed this man is by focusing on the movements of his “raw, scabbed” knuckles and his response to life surrounding him. Although the man in “Brick” is alive, Eggert did a wonderful job convincing me that he might as well be dead on the inside.
If one would guess that death is a theme often-visited in Scattershot, then one would guess right. However, what I love about Eggert’s work is that many of these short stories and poems are not linear, as they require the reader to piece together what occurred. An example of this is one of my favorite pieces, “Parallel Play.” This story starts off with a troubled boy named Billy who is playing a little too rough with a girl; as the story progresses, the reader discovers why Billy acts the way he does. It may sound simple in practice, but Eggert conveys this story in a way that required me to take a deep breath once I found out more about Billy and his family.
Scattershot touches on the theme of domestic abuse and allows the reader to discover how psychologically disturbed the culprits of domestic abuse can be. An excerpt from “Like Father” does a perfect job of relaying this:
“And now, what kind of man would he be to take her lip, to split it, to punch her lights out, feed her a knuckle sandwich, and he almost remembers the crack, the splinter of bone, a skull, rebounding off the wall, the plaster branching into spider webs, hair tearing from a scalp, and they were just baby teeth, blood dripping into cupped hands, the monster of a man looming, looking down on her, on her boy.”
“Like Father,” at length, is only one page long. However, the bloodthirsty details of physicality and violence demonstrate Eggert’s masterful ability to truly make the reader experience these feelings as close as one possibly can. Although these themes may seem to be disturbing, they convey the heartbreakingtruths about the desolate situations that happen in society.
The best literature affects the reader as a whole, enabling him or her to see life in a different perspective. Scattershot certainly did this for me, as I am now constantly pondering life’s misfortunes. I think about children like Billy who are raised in the most unfortunate circumstances, or the old man in “Brick” who can only see violence in the world around him. If you want an emotionally charged collection of poetry and short stories, look no further than Amy L. Eggert’s Scattershot.