A woman dies in her sleep and her toddler son dies of starvation and dehydration within days because no one knew he was alone in an apartment with the corpse of his mother. A PVC art installation levitates and collapses, killing and injuring the people viewing it. A young woman leaves secretarial school, is spirited away by a gang that prostitutes her and then kills her.
Homeland Security delays result in the death of an infant. Witches are rounded up and exterminated in the 20th and 21st centuries. Children play in streams polluted with toxic waste and suffer cancer. What makes so many of these stories unbearably sorrow-filled is the everyday-ness of the activities that tragically devolve .
Reed’s dispassionate reportage combines with illustrations that nearly leap off the page, and grabs the reader by the throat, screaming “Unfair? Unfair doesn’t begin to define life!” For Reed, objective as he seems, betrays outrage by the stories he chooses to tell and the details he exposes.
Tales of Woe is not a book to be ignored. It is startling, scary, and relevant. It chills because the reader knows this is the world in which we live.
Bottom Line: Would I buy Tales of Woe? Undoubtedly. Although not particularly pleasant, it is electric, at times poignant, and deeply affecting.