In this compact collection, settling the score” provides a fascinating apparatus for exploring foundational civilizing ideas. Notions of courage, cowardice, and revenge course through Michael Garriga’s flash fiction pieces, each one of which captures a duel’s decisive moment from three distinct perspectives: opposing accounts from the individual duelists, followed by the third account of a witness. In razor-honed language, the voices of the duelists take center stage, training a spotlight on the litany of misguided beliefs and perceptions that lead individuals into such conflicts.
From Cain and Abel to Andrew Jackson and Charles Dickenson; from John Henry and the steam drill to an alcoholic fighting the bottle: the cumulative effect of these powerful pieces is a probing and disconcerting look at humankind’s long-held notions of pride, honor, vengeance, and satisfaction. Meticulously crafted by Garriga, and with stunning illustrations by Tynan Kerr, The Book of Duels is a fierce, searing debut.