The Coffins of Little Hope
Unbridled, May 3 2011, $24.95
In Nebraska octogenarian widow Essie Myles writes the obituary column for her family-owned County Paragraph; as she has done for over seven decades under the byline S Myles. In fact she uses the same 1953 typewriter as she did years ago when she wrote her first obit, an essay on her late mom who died giving birth to her.
Essie notices how the press seems to be going nonstop and learns a New York publishing firm contracted the paper among other sources to print the final book in a popular YA series. Essie also learns from a neighbor Daisy that a photographer abducted the woman’s daughter Lenore. Essie investigates, but believes no crime occurred as she concludes Lenore went willingly with her boyfriend even as others accuse the mother of killing the daughter. However, the novel is leaked and the missing person report goes viral as Essie’s small town becomes the center of international news for fifteen minutes of distorted infamy.
This is a lay back satire that lampoons the country’s fascination with scandalous news; even when there is none to extrapolate as done with the disappearance of Lenore. The story line is so mellow, it is an anti-action tale not intended for everyone. Subtly mocking the voracious need for negative news, Timothy Schaffert provides a scathing attack on how we invent news made even more powerful by the gentle “much ado about nothing” Nebraska cast counter weighed by the international gotcha feeding frenzy.