Matt Forney
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The Doctor and the Heretic and Other Stories by Andy Nowicki

This is a collection of three short stories revolving around Nowicki’s usual themes of alienation, loserdom and Catholicism. The eponymous tale is notable as it features Nowicki’s first (and to date only) woman protagonist. Dr. Carol Golden is a terminally depressed widower with a crush on one of her patients, the tortured and handsome Fenton Balonsky:

The doctor groaned and writhed violently as her body gushed crystalline treasure all over her sheets, in such copious quantity that it frightened her. She wondered if she might die, here in her plush bed, surrounded by all her worldly possessions, alone; expiring in terrible ecstasy as her sticky, fluidic essence spurted out, leaving behind a lifeless shell, a pretty, middle-aged corpse lying in a thick puddle of spent pleasure.

“The Doctor and the Heretic” is riveting, thanks to Nowicki’s attention to detail and ability to convincingly portray a female character, but the real star of the show is the story immediately following it. “Tears of the Damned” is an alternate history tale showing what might have happened had Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris had become upstanding citizens rather than committing the Columbine attacks. It covers similar territory as The Columbine Pilgrim, but from a new and unexpected angle:

After the initial shock of the news wore off, Dylan found himself feeling emotions that were harder to comprehend. He felt somehow guilty, like he’d let his friend down. He felt that he ought to have been by Eric’s side when he died, and he felt that he too should be dead, but that he’d gotten off easy. Once again, Dylan couldn’t help thinking that he’d been cheated out of something that was rightfully his. Eric and he had belonged together in life, as well as in death. But what could it mean, this bizarre thought? Dylan shook it off. After a period of mourning, he fell back into the intricacies of his collegiate life: the weekday classes, the weekend parties, the daily, weekly, and monthly routine.

The final story, “Autobiography of a Violent Soul,” is a Considering Suicide-esque narrative about a morose, self-immolating loser. It’s the weakest of the bunch, but still quite funny. If you enjoy Nowicki’s works, The Doctor and the Heretic and Other Stories is a worthy addition to your library.

Click here to buy The Doctor and the Heretic and Other Stories.

Read Next: The Columbine Pilgrim by Andy Nowicki