sunday best #6: “Thumbprint”

Joe Hill
First published 2007 in Postscripts 10

Mark Harding says:

The opening sentences give a taster of the subject matter:

The first thumbprint came in the mail.

Mal was eight months back from Abu Ghraib, where she had done things she regretted.

The story is moving and fearless, and effortlessly includes more material than is even attempted in most Waterstone’s novels, covering: women in modern warfare, the corruption of the soldiers at Abu Ghraib, the social background of the US infantry, the insanity of ideology, the difficulties of returning to civilian life; guilt; and redemption. Even now, I can’t read the final sentence of the story without welling up.

I love short stories, and once an author’s career progresses to writing to pay the mortgage rather than for love, then he or she has to concentrate on novels. It would be nice if short stories – and especially the ones not written by the few “usual suspects” – got wider exposure in Britain’s media representation of “literary culture”, and even nicer if stories like Thumbprint got the readership they should.

Mark Harding
“Thumbprint” is recommended by Mark Harding (see also his six things).
  • First published: 2007
  • Current availability: Available on Amazon UK (in an anthology)

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