The Shadow Cast is a collection of twenty-two short stories … but a book debunking any claim that a whole cannot be greater than the sum of its parts.
Each tale in Mike Broemmel’s new anthology can proudly stand alone in the greatest tradition of story- telling; but read in sequence his painstakingly ordered works pack the punch of an epic novel. They present an unbroken saga of stark, simple truth that is all but unique in the annals of fiction. People, places, periods develop and seamlessly intertwine, story-by-story.
The Shadow Cast is an insightful record of a reality we never realized existed before Broemmel. The shadow may sometimes represent shelter and escape, sometimes the umbrella that obscures so many of our quiet doings. The cast? The cast is you … you and that guy down the road apiece. It’s about how you manage to share this world with him and her as earth bound companions, fellow mortals.
Broemmel penned The Shadow Cast during a particularly challenging point in his own life. When there was nothing but a stub of a pencil and a few squares of toilet paper to turn his thoughts into shades of black and white, that’s what he used. The result is this book with its humble clarity and the act of contrition of a human being whose heart might be outweighed only by his talent.
But don’t leap to the flawed conclusion that what you are about to read reflects bitterness or numbingly agonizing memoir of Broemmel’s trials and tribulations. Nothing could be further from the truth. Gritty and honest as these stories are, they are nothing if not a celebration of the indomitable human spirit. The spirit of the fading actress, the hapless lover, the forgotten inventor, the heartless businessman, the crippled, the crazed, the clumsy, the dastardly and the destitute all find a home here where nobodies become somebodies in the hands of a master of literature. Because, you see, Mike Broemmel has discovered a vital truth – the harder you gaze from the shelter of an umbrella, the more likely you are to see the clouds break … and those first shafts of sunlight that dry the rain – and the tears.
Neil Marr Editor
Monaco – 2004
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