How A Critic Earns A Living When The Days Are Slow

Itsy Bitsy Spider: A Review

Since the before the dawn of writing, even as far back as the days when primitive clan leaders grunted exclamations around campfires that they shared with fellow savages, stories about the cycle of life and its inherent struggles for success have always fascinated us. Here we have a more modern spin on those tales of the eons, deceptively simple in its surface-level appearance but elegantly layered with the eternal quest to rise up toward the plane of the divine.

First, the author provides the setting:

The itsy-bitsy spider crawled up the waterspout.

The reader knows little about our protagonist, the spider, other than that said arachnid strives to climb above his current station in life, as do we all. Is he single? Married? Romantically inclined? Is he a well-educated spider, or has he learned his lessons of life through the hardships of trial and error? The reader might eagerly settle into an easy chair in anticipation, waiting for such intimate details of character to emerge as the story unfolds.

But suddenly a crisis strikes, throwing everything into doubt.

Down came the rain, and washed the spider out.

Is our hero finished already? How could he survive the deluge? What went through his mind as the water choked his breath. Did he glimpse fading visions of a lover with whom he would never again share a kiss? Did he find an anchor to which he could cling? And even if he survived, will he have full use of his limbs and wits after suffering such a trauma? The reader’s fingers clutch the edge of the page, fearing the worst.

Against all our fears a ray of hope arrives. In this case, it is an actual ray, a beam of light.

Out came the sun, and dried up all the rain.

We almost want to cover our eyes, out of fear that we will find a broken, mangled body in the aftermath of the storm. As in the ancient sagas of Greek mythology, the gods can be cruel. They dally with us mere mortals as if we were but playthings; a broken toy may provoke a tear to roll down a god’s cheek, but countless other toys are within reach. Has our hero met his untimely fate? Did the ambitious arachnid perish when he reached for the heavens?

And the itsy-bitsy spider crawled up the spout again.

Oh happy day! The reader can breathe freely again, exhaling the terror and tension that had lain coiled in his heart since the first hint of rain. Our spider has been given a second chance, free once again to strive ever upward to a more perfect life. His horizon is unclouded and the possibilities stretch out without limit.

Itsy Bitsy Spider is available from the usual online retailers as well as in brick-and-mortar bookstores. As of this writing, we have been unable to confirm rumors that the story has been optioned by a major movie studio. Meanwhile, we look forward to reading more such intriguing literature from this author. 

(Patrick W. Andersen hopes to resume writing mainstream book reviews in the near future. But the days have indeed been slow.)

About pwandersen

Patrick W. Andersen's debut novel, Second Born, won critical acclaim for its reimagining of the life of Jesus as he grew up with his brothers and sisters in Sepphoris. His new novel, Acts of the Women, tells stories of how women, in the decades after the crucifixion, helped give birth to what eventually became Christianity.
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