Not everything in life has a happy ending.
Mr. Natale captures the numbness and fog of grief quite well in Refrigeration Blues. Matthew’s reaction to the sudden death of his life partner is heartbreakingly realistic. The first few pages in particular painted such a vivid picture of Matthew’s state of mind that I felt as if I were walking alongside him as he struggles to figure out what to do next. Due to numerous references to suicide and sex, the age recommendation for this piece is a firm 16+ and should be taken seriously.
Uneven pacing, flashbacks that took up a large percentage of the ninteen pages of this story, and an abrupt ending made it difficult for me to understand the author’s intentions at times. Had this been the first chapter of a novella or full length novel it would have made more sense to include some of the anecdotes that explain how Matthew and Nathaniel met and they type of life they built together. Adding these things into such a short piece distracted me from the main plot, though, and made it difficult to remember where the original narrative had previously ended. While I understand there is at least one sequel in the works I would have also preferred to see the conflicts in this installment wrapped up more sufficiently.
Matthew’s wry sense of humor was what kept me so interested in the conclusion of this tale. I never expected to laugh while reading such serious material, but Matthew is able to find the humor in even his darkest experiences as a brand new widower. He’s an extremely intelligent and witty character who Mr. Natale has clearly spent a great deal of time developing. The end of this story promises that it will be continued, and I am looking forward to finding out what Matthew does next.
Refrigeration Blues is a good choice for mature teens. I’d especially recommend it to anyone who has ever lost someone they really loved.
Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short Reviews. It has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.