Monday, May 31, 2010

"The Pineapple Princess," by Richard Lutman

What a curiously entertaining story this is. It centers on a despondent writer chasing the muse. Originality of language and character is the gift Lutman offers to the reader. One gal offers the practice of boiling Easter eggs, the other only remembers Bogart from a movie. But it’s the gal named Pineapple whose voice is witty and her appearance is unpredictable. Will the protagonist reach Hemingway stature depends on the Pineapple Princess. For a fun read, go here to Green Silk Journal.

Monday, May 24, 2010

"Mix Tape: Vol. 1," by B. J. Hollars

Sixteen and in love. Cars and music and time alone, and time wending your way through adults, parents, siblings. Experiencing life with someone who you believe understands your intense feelings and your blooming logic. But then there is the mystery too of how to deal with absence and routines, and the changes that intervene, the inevitability of a breakup. The great short story, “Pet Milk” by Stuart Dybek comes to mind. Hollars’ use of music fragments from a tape mix convincingly links with the emotions of the point of view character. Perhaps this reminds me of the way Dybek offers visual imagery to reflect the young man’s emotion in his story. For beautiful, poetic melancholy read Hollars’s story here in Night Train.

Monday, May 17, 2010

"Public Access," by Elizabeth Wetmore

How does a story work when character gestures and descriptions are almost overstated, cartoon-ish maybe? Why does the reader care? Because the narrator voice is so strong and convincing while it bridges multiple viewpoints and sustains an underlying philosophy about life’s turns, misses and near misses, and surprises. The reader enjoys rooting for the underdog, ‘lost cause’ characters that we can cheer as they overcome obstacles, even a poisonous oleander bush, but only if the reader has the masterful guide of a strong narrative voice. It’s all here for pure enjoyment at Del Sol Review.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"The Lesser Known Siblings Girl Gang," by Roxane Gay

I confess I read National Enquirer. With headlines like “Tiger & Elin Will Split Kids,” how can one ignore the promise suggested by the literal meaning of such a title? What’s better than the award-winning Enquirer, you might argue. But it’s here in Roxane Gay’s story. She is on to something. When our interests wane about Brittany or Lindsay’s relapse-comeback cycles, there is a warehouse of stories, i.e., a clubhouse of sister-celebs (and some guys) who will fuel future scandalous issues and temporarily fill our insatiable thirst for the self-destruction coined by Hollywood. Read it here in Keyhole.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Skunk," by Ben Greenman

Disappointments in ambition, parents, and lovers are familiar ground, as well as how we respond each in our way to unhappy lives. The unusual element here is the way this writer offers fresh language that knits a tableau of the life of a skunk, a guy who does not offer a reason for empathy from the reader. And yet, the guy’s not really so bad relative to the others in the story. I like the way the sustained metaphor of skunk pays off at the end of the story. Enjoy it here at Mississippi Review Online.