Here Comes Another Lesson by Stephen O’Connor

Here Comes Another Lesson
Stephen O’Connor
(Free Press)

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The cover of “Here Comes Another Lesson” might seem like the cover of a children’s book at first glance, but the new short story collection by Stephen O’Connor is far from the “And the moral of the story is…” simplicity of children’s tales such as Aesop’s Fables.

Instead of stories like “The Tortoise and the Hare,” O’Connor’s opening short story, “Ziggurat,” describes the story of a young girl, an emotionally-complex minotaur, and a surrealist labyrinth chase. The hazy plot might lead to an “I don’t get it” response from many readers, and despite the story’s many beautiful moments, many readers may feel ready to give up and move onto a more plot-driven and straightforward literary endeavor.

Discouraged readers should think twice before putting down this book, however. There are some wonderful gems ready to be mined for the most dedicated of readers. Some of the strange treasures hidden within the collection are stories about an actor playing the role of himself in a film based on his life, a girl with an abnormally large head who goes to “Big Head School,” and Charles, a professor of Atheism.
Although his stories sometimes fall into hazy surrealism, O’Connor balances his imaginative worlds and ideas with moments of sharp realism. He twists his artful narratives together using dark humor, satirical wit, and raw emotion to create something for everyone who’s willing to put a little thought and heart into the words on the page.

“Here Comes Another Lesson” holds so much variety that if one part of the collection falls flat, another part is sure to strike a nerve or inspire a new thought. This book isn’t for the reader who likes packaged stories, neatly presented, and tied with a bow. The short stories in this collection sometimes feel a bit more like “Here Comes Another…Huh?” However, it’s the lack of a clear lesson that becomes the lesson itself. Life has no easy answers, and neither does a piece of good art.

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