I love the irony of the invention of the cigarette actually saving someone's (well, the whole world's) life. This quote is my favorite: "Disenchanted with existence, you resign yourselves to death." It's humorous within the context of the alien's speech, but there's a note of truth to it that strikes the reader as it does the narrator. And it's a wonderfully terrifying idea to imagine that we exist only as long as some alien species decides we have unique -- or amusing -- customs!
"Telegram," is like one great big sigh of truth. I don't know what it is, but that last line seems so incredibly momentous. The way the author combined all those seemingly not-so-meaningful words and phrases into one meaningful whole is truly artful.
Gospel was written in a beautiful writing style. The flow of the piece is broken and uneven in the most per fect way to add to the tone. Great job, Hillary Leftwich.
I like that "Something Only Humans Do" states outright that humans are the only species that tries to find out what is beyond the physical. It's an obvious thing, but not something people think about, and it adds a layer of profoundness to the story. Also--though I'm not sure if it was intentional--I enjoyed thinking that Rosie gave back the narrator's money thinking he would need it for the passage to the Underworld (as in Greek mythology), and that this kindness was wasted on the narrator, who refused to pass on anyway.
I love both 'Countermeasures' and 'Coping Mechanisms.' The first is delightful--and also a bit disappointing at the end, in a good way! One gets a little hopeful at the prospect of aliens coming to correct our grammar, but alas, even aliens cannot conquer the age of social media. And in 'Coping Mechanisms,' the voice is so endearing. It's really an emotional story when you think about it, but the narrator's personality makes it lighthearted, which makes for a slightly humorous contrast.