Douglas Schwartz’s "Checkered Scissors" is a delightful read, especially for those who love imaginative fiction or who are plagued by bizarre dreams that lead them to muse about intriguing implications in their waking life. For the latter, if you can imagine what it might be like if everything you’ve ever dreamed, read about it, or experienced materialized into a physical dimension, and was left to simmer together and evolve for a long while before you entered it yourself, you’ll have an idea of the book's setting.
Not only is the narrative itself interesting, but Mr. Schwartz manages to flesh out his characters to be multi-dimensional, even those that are cartoons, cameos, or figments of another character’s imagination. His villain is truly a villain, yet I occasionally sympathized with him in a way that I might with a bullied child who grows up to bully others after a terrifying and abusive childhood.
This is not a horror story, but it could have been in the hands of another writer. It would make a very good movie, though a director might go for the easy way out and turn it into something shocking and grotesque. That would be a shame because I think much of its unique style would be lost.
My only suggestion to Mr. Schwartz is to put his very fine preface and kind acknowledgements at the end of the book in an afterword. I understand the desire to put the book's creation in context and to express gratitude for all those who helped bring it to life, but by the time the reader has gotten through the table of contents, the title page, the long preface, and acknowledgements, impatience could well turn into frustration.
Otherwise, I have no qualms about recommending the book to anyone. It’s an intriguing read for all ages and various genres. But here, I’ll leave you with some excerpts to help you get an idea:
“He hated his creator for making him half man, half machine, and all monster. He never wanted to be a monster, but that’s how he appeared in the dream. The dream defined him.”
“Tonight, Annabelle would take the place of the star role as Priscilla Pigg in Roaming Thunder’s production of 'Swine Women and Song', a farm-themed, musical, love story.”
“If people considered him a monster and mad scientist, he didn’t bother to change his appearance. In fact, he improved upon his monstrous look. He blended his body with his chair so no one other than himself knew where his body ended and the mechanics started. He kept his head shaved and carved himself two spiral-shaped scars along each side to give the illusion of horns. For special occasions, he trained a swarm of hornets to swarm along his jawline like a buzzing beard.”
All in all, "Checkered Scissors" is a nice escape from reality where one occasionally wrestles with ethical dilemmas, sympathizes with heroes and villains alike, and finds more fuel to fire their own imaginative dreams.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)