As she descends into the darkness of an earthquake-ravaged schoolhouse in northern Afghanistan, Major Grace Sommers can hear the cries of an injured child. Just beyond her arm’s reach, small drops of water tap a surreal rhythm into the mud. How did she wind up here? Grace wonders. Who is she really trying to save?
This is a small taste of the stark reality and eerie conflict that runs below the surface in the title story from Half a Reason to Die, a collection of eight short fiction pieces by author and documentary filmmaker Chip Duncan.
Half a Reason to Die is an unusual and highly entertaining group of stories taking the reader on a dramatic ride around the world, each piece told by first person narrators with a background in journalism.
In other scenarios from Half a Reason to Die an eccentric piano prodigy lies in a NYC hospital dying of cancer, a young journalist helps solve the very cold case of a teenage biathlete murdered in the Alaskan wilderness, and an anti-abortion protestor breaks his lifelong commitment to nonviolence. Half a continent away, an elderly German woman spends her final days in exile reminiscing about the love of her life she hasn’t seen since the early days of World War II.
“They’re strange characters from strange places,” says Duncan, “and all based on real life events I’ve experienced along the way.”
Chip Duncan’s Half a Reason to Die is like sitting around a campfire listening to someone tell spooky stories—about murder, mayhem, and love and hope and sex and dreams, to paraphrase a famous rock band. The stories these narrators relate—full of heartbreak and mystery and life’s hard-won truths—won’t let you go.
—C. J. Hribal, author of The Company Car and American Beauty Chip
Duncan is a gifted storyteller. His intriguing characters and heart-wrenching revelations make Half a Reason to Die a compelling read.
— Kevin McCarey, author of Islands Under Fire and Oceans Apart