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Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
What the Tiger Said is a gem of literary fiction written by Roger Ladd Memmott. Stress is heavily on the word ‘literary’ in this precise description. Not for any false pretensions of affected literariness, but because this short novel, told with the impetus and in-the-moment vividness of a slightly extended short story, is a minor masterpiece of creative writing and uniquely gorgeous, individualistic prose. From the very first sentence, Memmott establishes an immense talent for creating intensely evocative, surrealistic, magical, formidably incredible while impeccably credible, deeply human scenes. The reader awakens to a little girl sitting all alone inside a darkened boxcar home, finishing her apple dinner, listening to the rain outside, knowing that her Paps is once again in jail. Within moments, the reader is immersed in an almost hallucinogenic world of circus-like unreality, homeless figures, errant drifters, a revenant child friend, and a tiger on the loose. “When she looked for her face in the window, it wasn’t her face… She knew it wasn’t her face because she wasn’t grinning, but the face in the window was.”
Thus begins the slightly apocalyptic tale of What the Tiger Said by Roger Ladd Memmott. With allusions both to Little Red Riding Hood and Wonder Woman, our little boxcar girl moves with the introspective power of a simple yet impervious metaphor, manifesting naïve innocence with the willfulness of fate, a determined speck of life amidst the forewarned End-Times. Target of the drifters, befriender of an orangutan escapee – like the tiger – and holder of several golden Tickets to Heaven lifted from the would-be kidnappers, our little girl heads deep into the night for her predestined encounter with a tiger and her own accountability for a death, two fates intertwined in a fiery gem of literary fiction.