Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty is a collection of stories about a single narrator, Daniel, going through his life on a Maine reservation. Each story is strange in a compelling way, showing what life for Daniel is after so much tragedy and pain. There are moments of him and his friend trying to rob a tribal museum, another of his grandmother believing him to be her brother and reprimanding him for smoking cigarettes, another of him visiting his mother in a mental hospital, another of him describing how his nephew died in his arms. These stories ache, and I was particularly drawn to ‘Food for the Common Cold’, ‘The Blessing Tobacco’, ‘Earth, Speak’, ‘Night of the Living Rez’, and ‘The Name Means Thunder’.
I loved in ‘Night of the Living Rez’, Talty introduced the idea of zombies in the beginning and expanded its meaning in the end. I also enjoyed how there were little details that weaved in and out of each story, things such as the pills and the boy’s gravestone. The last two stories in the collection really changed the meaning and context of the rest of the pieces, particularly how Frick, the mother’s boyfriend, is understood. He’s built up as a man that is generally nice to Daniel, though always drunk, but when Daniel walks in on Frick trying to sexually assault his sister, the character is shattered before our eyes. This same thing happened in the final story, where it described his sister, Paige, having a child and then child died, but it was unknown on why. It turned out Daniel was part to blame as well as his mother. These stories are heartfelt, raw, gravitating, and masterfully written. I’m excited to see what Talty does next.
Final Rating: 5/5
Maxwell Suzuki is a writer, poet, and photographer based in Los Angeles.