‘Negligible Tales & The Parenticide’ Club Review

Michael Parke, Staff Writer

After reading through Can Such Things Be?, by Ambrose Bierce, I found myself in the library looking for another book, but I couldn’t find anything of interest. Finding myself frustrated at The Plague, by Albert Camus, and entering into a depressive episode at an alarmingly fast rate (even for me), I desperately reached for the book that put me in this predicament in the first place. Once again he delighted me.

I read eighteen short stories collected under two sections: Negligible Tales contains fourteen stories and The Parenticide Club four. The distinction between these two sections is that the latter focuses on the deaths of parents, as one may expect, whereas the former is more varied, comparable to Civilians, the second half of In the Midst of Life, by Bierce.

A Bottomless Grave, the first story in Negligible Tales kicked off the entire adventure. It’s more or less about a family that works as a whole to lure people into their basement to kill. Working on a similar principle, a murderous physician in a story called The City of the Gone Away, uses his false position to kill people for profit. Bierce didn’t stick to murder though, mixing in a hilarious story about a stubborn cow called The Curried Cow; a story about two dunces of businessmen called The Failure of Hope and Wandel; and a sad story about an orphan, presented as a dialogue between two people in a play, called The Little Story.

Surprised and a little hesitant, I moved on to The Parenticide Club. The first story, My Favorite Murder, started this segment and I wish I could describe to you how uplifting it was to read—I actually laughed aloud at the story. The title may throw the general reader off, but the way Bierce writes the unnamed narrator, the presence of a ridiculous cult and the absolutely incredible use of one murder to get away with another makes this a must-read. He immediately follows with Oil of Dog, a horrific tale about a mother who runs an abortion clinic and a father who liquifies stray dogs. I found myself feeling somewhat bad for Boffer Bings, the son, because he seems to be an unwilling participant in the business of his parents, but at the same time he doesn’t seem to care. The two remaining stories—one about someone who kills his parents and shoves them into a bookshelf to burn them, and another about a possibly sadistic hypnotist—were good also.

Being the last two sections of the orange book, I took my time reading these short stories and graciously got a lot more than I thought I would. They made me think of where money and power goes in everyday situations and how little mistakes can lead to big failures. The strongest contender for a comparable work this time around is probably The Tell Tale Heart, by Edgar Allan Poe, although no character of Bierce’s showed even a sliver of remorse for what they did. Overall I can happily recommend Negligible Tales and The Parenticide Club to those who can stomach its contents.