BOOK REVIEW: 33 WAYS TO KILL MY HUSBAND
So how, exactly, do you mend a broken heart? Throughout the ages, many lovers, philosophers and more than a few songwriters have pondered that very question. In his latest short story, prolific author Damon Young prescribes a delightful and definitive solution: through murder.
In 33 Ways to Kill My Husband, Young deftly illustrates the agony of an unhappy woman’s desperate attempts to “do us part” using every weapon under the sun. Interestingly enough, Young credits his own wife for giving him the inspiration to write the diabolical novella.
“[The idea] actually came out of a conversation we were having. She said something that made me so crazy,” he laughed. “She looked at me and said ‘I bet you really want to kill me right now.’ And we both agreed that that would make a good title.”
A good title…and a great story.
In 33 Ways to Kill My Husband, we meet a woman that we see regularly in our daily lives, yet rarely see in fictitious form. Her intricate plot is not hatched out of impulse or in response to a dramatic, heartbreaking event. Rather, it has incubated over time as she has played spectator to the slow erosion of her once-fulfilling relationship. At the onset, she tells us:
“…I made sure it wasn’t one of those nights where he’d done one of the millions of things that pissed me off. I didn’t want my anger to cloud my judgment or dull my aim. I waited until he did something nice. Something to remind me of how he used to be. Something to remind me of how far we’d fallen. He came home from work with a bouquet of flowers. I asked him what was the occasion and he said there was no reason. He just felt like surprising me. I had a surprise for him, too.”
It’s apparent from very early on that the unnamed protagonist feels powerless and is seeking, albeit through extreme and morbid measures, some modicum of empowerment and renewed self-respect. And while the subject of domestic violence is far from a laughing matter, readers will certainly delight in the hubris and humorous execution of the story.
“Every woman can identify with having a man who is totally oblivious to her concerns. And every man can identify with loving a woman who’s frustrated with him and he has no idea why,” Young said. “The wife in ’33 Ways’ is a lot like the Looney Tunes character Wiley Coyote. She cooks up these elaborate schemes that never go the way she wants. The fun is in watching her plans blow up in her face.”
An avid reader and a graduate of the prestigious American Film Institute, Damon Young originally set out to become a filmmaker – pursuing screenwriting primarily as an entry way into the world of cinema.
“Every good film begins with a good story. But you can spend years on a film script and have only 20 people ever read it if the film doesn’t get produced,” he told us. “When I chose to limit myself to writing short stories, it forced me to finish [the writing process] quickly and, thanks to platforms like Amazon Kindle direct publishing, I’m able to enjoy much more immediate gratification.”
As a writer, Young is committed to making sure that his audience “gets” what drives his protagonist, and he brings the attributes he enjoys as a reader to his own written works.
“I want my readers to come along for the ride. We all have things we want and have to work to achieve or fix. My job is to help the reader understand a character’s desire so they can share in the prevention of the character achieving what they want and in the elation that comes when what the character wants is finally given to them.”
And while murderous shenanigans may drive the story’s plot, the real charm and substance of “33 Ways” lies in the subtle lessons the reader may learn and apply to his or her own intimate relationships.
“Passion works both ways – in the negative and in the positive. The character’s response to her husband is completely pathological, but it’s really a grotesque and extreme cry for help over her frustration with him,” Young said. “When you have conflict, you don’t really want to do your lover harm, but feelings aren’t rational or logical. You both have to take responsibility for the success or deterioration of your relationship and you both have to play a part in resolving it.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, Damon Young earned a Computer Science degree from Princeton University and began his career as an IT consultant. But, as a child who transformed his fascination with an old family typewriter into a life-long writing vocation, he’s long nurtured a love of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy storytelling. This ultimately led him to pursue a Masters in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute. He has been a quarter-finalist for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Nicholl Scholarship in Screenwriting and recently won the Best Short Film award for his directing work from StayTunedTV.net. A prolific author in multiple mediums, Damon has been writing on his blog, Macroscope, since 2002. He currently resides in Los Angeles.