You Can't Use Your Cell Phone in Here is an eclectic assortment of a dozen short stories written by two authors over a period of fifteen years in at least three different parts of the United States. Confronting themes ranging from the farcically satirical to the darkly evocative,
The collection opens with a fast-marching account of a pair of childhood friends attempting to pull off the prank of the century while somehow finding meaning in their lives through their genial treachery. Next comes the sad and alcohol-driven dissolution of a relationship -- as seen through the eyes of a loyal pet. Then, a self-righteous blowhard gets his comeuppance in a most unusual -- and entertaining -- way. On the heels of that, a troubled bus driver literally races toward a terribly destructive end, a load of hostages in tow. Following these male-dominated accounts emerges a steamy tale of a woman in a shredded marriage finding solace in a most adventurous manner.
Next, an embittered newsroom employee delves into an unseen world to exact revenge on a co-worker -- and the cosmos as a whole. After this, the book's true feel-good story, as a chef with unimpeachable style and grace tests his abilities to the limit. Then, a cycling accident brings an affably deluded man in touch with the world he wants but can never have; an ultramarathon runner engages in a hellishly solitary mortal struggle; and a gaggle of fifth-degree misfits stumble into a wee-hours, madcap confrontation with mischief. The book's final two stories are its shortest and longest; both involve haunted souls of a sort, but the presentation of their unlikely circumstances could not be any more different.
All told, the only genuine motif linking these thought-provoking stories -- two of which approach near-novella length -- is the authors' shared quest to resolve their characters' inevitable dilemmas -- sometimes slapstick, sometimes morbid -- in a way that reflects their own soft yet gritty humanity.