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Books, Journals, New Media
May 18, 2005


Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; Journal Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University.

JAMA. 2005;293(19):2414-2418. doi:10.1001/jama.293.19.2414-b

The 16 well-crafted short stories in Liam Durcan’s collection A Short Journey by Car strike diverse and complex notes. Some are chilly, some surreal, some funny, some cryptic. Most of them, in one way or another, are variations on the theme stated in the title of the collection and its lead-off story, which begins with a heart-stopping rap on the door summoning a Moscow dentist to a midnight ride with KGB men, who take him to the chambers of Comrade Leader Stalin in the grips of a dental emergency. As the final story, wryly titled “American Standard,” ends, a Canadian smuggler of contraband super-flush toilets is bogged down in the heavy traffic of a customs lane approaching the US border.