Somebody Wants Somebody Dead


Gardner displays copies of “Somebody Wants Somebody Dead.”

Justin McGee, Senior Copy Editor

Somewhere between teaching English at Francis Marion University and singing lead vocals for the rock band the Woodys, Professor of English Phillip J. Gardner found time to write and publish his second book Somebody Wants Somebody Dead.  

Somebody Wants Somebody Dead is a collection of twelve short stories published by Boson Books in April; Boson Books also published Gardner’s book Someone To Crawl Back To. This book was actually supposed to be Gardner’s third published book; however, That Place Love Built, was intended to be his second book, but it was held up during publishing.

Gardner balanced the serious tone of That Place LoveBuilt with the humor and bizarreness of Somebody Wants Somebody Dead.

“[That Place Love Built] is a serious book with serious stories, I think, but it’s often tender and subtle in ways that [Somebody Wants Somebody Dead] isn’t,” Gardner said. “This book is kind of dark, and it is kind of absurd. Its humor is dark humor…. In this book, most of the stories overtly, or tangentially, are about somebody that wants somebody dead!”

The inspiration for the stories in Somebody Wants Somebody Dead came from Gardner’s craving to write a story.

“It’s the desire to write a story, and that can be fulfilled in many ways,” Gardner said. “In this book there is this story about a woman that kind of fantasizes about killing her husband with a frozen dead dog. And, actually I read that factoid in Esquire Magazine or something. I thought: there’s a story there!”

The stories in this book are set in the south. According to Gardner, the setting is an important aspect in his characters’ lives. For that particular story, Gardner explains that the believability of these characters lies in the setting and culture in which they are presented.

Gardner explains his belief in the relationship between the writer and the reader. According to Gardner, the story is just as much about the reader’s interpretation as the writer’s intention.

“A story doesn’t happen on the page,” Gardner said. “It happens in the reader’s head. That’s what I want my students to learn. That’s what I try to teach myself all the time.”

More information on Gardner can be found at Copies of Somebody Wants Somebody Dead are available at the Patriot Bookstore in the University Center.