Maple Street starts off by assuring us that this is a Joseph Nardone short story. This is not a story set in a universe/time line where Joseph Nardone is the main character, but a story written by the author of the same name.
Please keep in mind that all reviews presented on The Salem Author From Bennington may contain spoilers, and as this short story is being offered for free through Smashwords, I suggest downloading a copy and reading it for yourself before reading this review.
Although it could be a part of a larger time line. I do feel that this is a story that tries to introduce us to something bigger. It starts off on such a huge note, introducing to the characters who live in this tiny little oasis of civilization that is Maple Street. I immediately think of those places in Ireland where it is said that you cannot build a house without the permission of the Elementals and that the ruins on the land are from those who tried. But as it ends, it leaves you with the impression that a lot of loose ends have been left dangling in the wind.
The story really begins with an altercation with a neighbor. Young Matt Francis has grown tired of the old man Jenkins cutting up the tree that is rightfully on his property. After an apparently unsuccessful attempt by his wife to communicate and placate the crochet old neighbor, she has decided to simply ignore him and let him enact whatever arboreal assaults he can think of. But Matt decides to take matters into his own hands, which ends up with him beating up an old man. It’s okay, because the old man holds his own.
I could say that this was where the story fell flat for me. But I’ve grown up in places where the problems skills of grown men were only mildly less developed than these two. It’s actually a pretty realistic conclusion and Matt’s character is very consistent being a testosterone fueled jerk who thinks he can just walk into a guy’s home and declare himself the rightful ruler of all who inhabit the dwelling.
However, it’s the full introduction of Dominick where things start to feel rushed. Soon he’s killing people in the most violent and gruesome way imaginable. I’m not sure if he’s a god living on Earth, or if Maple Street is a cosmic version of The Sims, but Dominick apparently only has to worry about the consequences from the others of his ilk, which he is about to meet as the curtains close.
When I was just a wee lad, trying to write mostly to impress adults, I had this typewriter. And the ink on that typewriter was beginning to run low. So I wrote this story (not this story, faithful reader. Try and keep up) and I finished it. And I showed it to my creative writing teacher the next morning and she told that the ending felt rushed. Like I ended it simply because I had to.
This story definitely felt rushed towards the end. Whereas the beginning was a huge build up that promised a connection with each of these characters, the ending felt like it was being written by a small child who suddenly had to put all of his toys away, because his parents told him it was time for bed. So the story ended satisfactorily for the child, because no one else has a stake in it, but if I were watching this child play, I would feel so cheated out of an ending. And if this is the part of a larger universe, I would wonder at the writer’s ability to do this on a larger scale. Would I become invested in the story of Maple Street and it’s residents only to be incredibly disappointed by the end of a long and perilous journey?
It’s a good effort. It might be just what established readers of Nardone’s work were looking for, but if this is the first story that new readers have looked at, then it’s going to disappoint some of them and maybe turn them off to possibly paying for other works by the same author.
As it stands, Maple Street starts off fun and sweet but leaves a mixture of confusing flavors in my mouth at the end.