28 September, 2022

LitStack Rec: Un-Natural Hermits

The Un-NaturalUnNatural
by Michael Alan Grapin

Self-publishing can be a blessing or a curse.  It allows for some really good writers to reach a deserving audience, and also gives really crappy writers an unwarranted platform.  But for me, self-publishing shines when a unique voice can be heard above the fray, even if the work in which it is expressed wouldn’t be mistaken for a highly polished product.

If you are a baseball fan, especially if you enjoy speculative fiction, check out Michael Alan Grapin’s novella, “The Un-Natural”.   In it, fifty-something, anonymous loser Raymond Fitzpatrick is abducted by aliens (yes, flashing lights, flying saucers, the whole gambit), and is eventually returned to earth in a much younger, fitter body of baseball phenom Joshua Brady.  While the main turning point of the story may be somewhat contrived (but not disingenuous), what’s important is Ray’s constant narrative as he watches the world move around him, first as an outsider in his own life, and then as an outsider from the world itself.

The book is not so much a well stitched and taunt story as it is the articulate and artfully reasoned ramblings and wishful thinking of a creative soul:  and it’s that we cannot determine if the voice we are hearing is that of Ray Fitzpatrick, Josh Brady, or Michael Grapin himself that makes it not only entertaining, but so very honest and ultimately rewarding.  A little uneven, wildly implausible, impeccably detailed, a touch naughty, and above all, completely heartfelt, the story of Ray and his beloved “Metros” is well worth experiencing for yourself.

—Sharon Browning