Sunday, February 1, 2015


In popular culture, great tragedy is often remedied with overwrought sentiment – the sappier the better. The problem, however, is that sentiment is too often used as a crutch to shore up an otherwise shallow exploration of the subject matter. And it often works – make readers laugh or cry and many of them will feel like you’ve accomplished something truly monumental.

But you and I will know better.

Thankfully, Benjamin Whitmer’s Cry Father is nothing of the sort. Personal tragedy it has in spades. This is a novel of lives lost and lived, of grief and mourning, and of resurrection and self-destruction. In place of sentiment is a kind of emotional grit that sits low and heavy in the gut.

This is the story of Patterson Wells, a tree clearer working in disaster zones who’s recently lost his young son. For solace, he writes his son letters during the quiet hours of the night. When that doesn’t work, he drinks.

When he returns to Colorado for the season, Patterson stops to go fishing with an old work buddy. The buddy, however, is in a meth-induced frenzy and has left his wife naked and hogtied in the bathtub. Choosing to set her free, Patterson sets into motion a series of events that will force him to confront his past and ultimately forever change his future.

Whitmer’s novel is a resonant exploration of violence, justice, and the legacy that fathers leave for their sons. It is a story bereft of cheap sentiment, and is all the better for it.

While a glass cutter by day, by night Z.S. Roe spends his time writing fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. His writings have appeared in various publications, including the Cambridge Times, The Silhouette, and The Toronto Sun, among others. Most recently, his short story “Peeping Tara” appeared in issue 13 of Dark Moon Digest. You can visit his blog at

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