Tuesday, September 28, 2010

RAISING THE DEAD by Patricia Abbott

In the last issue of Back Alley (Vol. 3, No. 1), Patti Abbott has one of the most fucked up stories I've ever read.

And I've read some fucked up shit!

Violet is a struggling freelance photographer whose work focuses on the abandoned buildings of Detroit. She's attempting to exhibit her work and failing when her boyfriend (and undertaker) offers her an odd gig--take photos of a young man who was hit by a truck and killed. The family wants one last photo of him decked out in his rugby uniform. She agrees to do this and inadvertently finds a "solution" to her problem: She will take photos of dead young men. Her not-provocative-enough photographs are suddenly extremely provocative. She quickly develops an obsession with her new subject matter and sees her ticket into the exclusive world of art.

Abbott is one of the top short story writers around, and this one, in my opinion, is one of her best. Lucid dialogue, a suspenseful and creepy plot, and a stunning ending. Brilliant stuff.


  1. Agreed, that story is a dandy. Also, Patti has one called 'The Instrument of Their Desire' that is outstanding. It might be my favorite of her short stories -- so far. You can find it at Beat to a Pulp.

  2. Thanks, Chris! This is floating around as a novel now. People do find it hard to take. And thank you, Naomi.

  3. Wow--that's really cool that you expanded it into a novel. I hope it finds a good home!

  4. Oooh, I can see how Raising the Dead could be made into a novel. Got my fingers crossed for you, Patti.

  5. A great review that had me going straight over for a read.
    It's not somewhere I've been before, but now it's in my favourites.
    It's a great story. Obsession is always an interesting topic, but the subject matter here is dark and tricky. Patti handles it wonderfully. I know that the 'dead' moments are really well written, but I'd like to applaud the sex in there, too. Sex is so hard to get right (as a writer - I'm stopping at that), and here it's perfect.
    Thanks for the link and the tip.

  6. Nigel--Back Alley is one of my favorite pubs. They haven't had a new issue in a while--though I think they will soon. They're very selective--top-shelf material.