Thursday, September 8, 2011

REVIEW: Suspicious Diagnosis by Jardonn Smith

First of all, before I get into the collection itself, I have to say a few words about the cover – if you’ve only stumbled across (and were, quite likely, turned off by) the creepy self-published cover from last year, the cover to the MLR Press edition is far more attractive. Seductive and intriguing, where the original was simply jarring, it definitely does a better job of setting the reader’s expectations.

Suspicious Diagnosis is a collection of 4 short stories and a two-act play. “Such a Man” leads off the collection, and is a sombre, sobering tale that provides a glimpse into the innermost thoughts of a man mourning his lover. “A True Ring” is a story I didn’t expect to like, with its focus on professional wrestling, but as the longest story in the collection it had ample opportunity to win me over. It’s an oddly romantic tale, with a relationship that initially feels inappropriate, but overall satisfying.

“Senility” is the two-act play that, I must admit, I really just skimmed through. I’ve never been one for reading plays, as much as I love attending them, so I can’t really comment.

“The Nosy Neighbor” is a much different story, the erotic tale of a widower who soon becomes an intimate acquaintance of the gay couple next door. Although not as strong a narrative as “A True Ring,” it was still my favourite in the collection. Unfortunately, the collection ends with the extremely short (and bewildering) “Suspicious Diagnosis,” which does provide a sort of contrast to the first story, but which weakens the overall impression I took away from the book.

Full marks to Jardonn for creativity, and for being so willing to challenge the reader. It’s a collection of ‘good’ writing that holds the promise of something better to come. Were he to attempt a longer work, with room to develop his themes and to really mesh the storytelling with the sexuality, I suspect he could really wow me.


  1. I must admit, I'm totally turned off by self-published covers. I'm spoiled for good books and have had mostly bad experiences with self-publishing...So I guess I'm jaded.

  2. Thank you, Sally! I enjoyed reading your take on my book.

  3. The original cover caught my eye and I made sure I was going to take a look at it and am very glad I did. Much stress is laid on covers coming out with the same old, same old, makes you want to yawn. But Jardonn's cover with...what was that, food? scum on his lips? got me right to reading the book and I loved it! The new cover is tame I think but I suppose it will attract more readers and you can't go wrong with that. A pity, I love jarring uncomfortable works, makes you proud to hold it.

  4. I'm glad you liked the cover even if Mick didn't. ;) Art is subjective. I know people think I'm weird for having Patrick Nagel serigraphs on my walls even though the 80's are long past, but I like what I like just as Mick does. :) As the cover artist for this book, I'm happy it set the tone for you.