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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Graduated: The Meantime Stories, No. 5 is a satirical short story written by Svingen and Pedersen. Audrey Riddlerfinch is finding that she’s not exactly enjoying the full college experience normally accorded to incoming freshmen at the Dictators’ College. While the rest of the student body is outside enjoying the traditional autumn party, Audrey’s by herself in a first floor lavatory writing derogatory graffiti on the walls of the stall she’s hidden in. The subject of her arch and witty phrases is none other than herself. She fully understands the whys and wherefores of being the only student in the school’s history not to have been invited to the party -- it all goes with being the only girl in a school that has no place for students of her gender. What makes her presence there even more despised is the fact that her parents paid her way past the gatekeepers and secured her admission with money. Her creative stall-writing completed, Audrey had made her way out of the restroom and had started trudging towards her room when her progress was arrested by the sound of her name being uttered by Mr. Cassar, a history teacher whose specialities included “espionage, counterintelligence and covert-ops,” and who was known more familiarly to students as The Chameleon. This odd and disconcerting man was definitely not someone she really wanted to engage in light conversation with, but, somehow, she found herself doing just that.
The social and current relevance of Svingen and Pedersen’s satirical short story, Graduated: The Meantime Stories, No. 5, will no doubt instantly be obvious to anyone who has a pulse and access to current events in the age of Donald Trump. While never mentioned by name in the story, the rigid hierarchy of the Dictators’ College and the offered disciplines which freshmen must argue for and select for their schoolwork renders any pretense null and void. We see the chilling effects of a rigidly imposed class and gender-specific system in a world where ethics are weakness, and perfidy, manipulation and betrayal are useful tools. And while most see current events as anything but humorous, somehow the interaction between an unlikely mentor and the girl who defied convention resonates and allows us to enjoy the dark humor that graces an even darker tale and the miracle that is their interaction. Graduated: The Meantime Stories, No. 5 is most highly recommended.