Story Title: ‘The Puzzle’ by Alex Cameron
Collection/Anthology?: Various Authors Anthology 1 (The Fiction Desk)
Date Read: 14th December 2011
Briefly: Mute, and physically disabled except for limited use of one of his arms, aged former art dealer Valentine has to endure the indignity of his situation, and the ceaseless annoyances of the sanatorium staff. On this particular day a mystery visitor leaves a present for Valentine. It’s a jigsaw puzzle and care nurse Bertha sets out to help the old man to construct it. His shady past is about to catch up with him.
Afterthoughts: This is a quite remarkable tale from Australia-born author, Alex Cameron. The story is well-crafted but the real triumph comes not from the plot itself, but in the way in which the author has painted the sense of helplessness and silent suffering in her main character. So much so that one cannot help but feel complete compassion and sympathy for poor Valentine, despite it being revealed that he has lived a less than honourable life. I read primarily in order to moved emotionally, and this story certainly hit the mark in that respect.
This story was read as part of a review of the Various Authors Anthology, Volume 1. If you want to find out more about this anthology then I invite you to pop along to my forethoughts post for this title. I also encourage you to make a trip over to the publisher page for this title.