ufo in kushiro - for some strange reason i feel compelled to admit that, like the male protagonist, komura, the sense of l...moresome thoughts on each story:
ufo in kushiro - for some strange reason i feel compelled to admit that, like the male protagonist, komura, the sense of loss after my divorce (from a marriage that lasted about 9 months) is best summed up in the ridiculous and meaningless effort i put forth in trying to understand how and why things ended as they did. unlike komura, my wife did not leave me a note...i got a phone call. strange how a story that doesn't specifically deal with divorce has made me feel a sense of loss almost ten years later.
landscape with flatiron - when does the fire of life go out in a person? i think the answer to this question depends on the intensity of fire within that person. murakami plays with this idea. ultimately, i think the idea of this story is more compelling than the execution of this story. for me, this story had a distance about it that kept me from feeling/realizing exactly what murakami was driving at with his fire metaphor. perhaps that was murakami's intent.
Like all indie publications, there is the good, the bad, and the ugly. This edition of the "The Rag" is no different. That being said, I feel there is...moreLike all indie publications, there is the good, the bad, and the ugly. This edition of the "The Rag" is no different. That being said, I feel there is more good in this edition than there is ugly or bad.
Plus, it is always fun to read aspiring authors. This lot of authors show promise. For the most part, the writing is crisp and clean; sometimes cliche but that is bound to happen.
This collection concentrates on what drives a person to be immoral. An excellent question, methinks. Through stories and poems these authors aim to deliver an answer. Perhaps not an answer, as this question probably cannot be answered with a simple declaration. Various scenarios of pain and darkness abound -- but the darkness is not gratuitous or simply employed for shock value. (This impressed much because my history with these types of stories had previously led me to believe that shock was the goal and the story was a distant secondary objective.)
The one criticism I do have with this collection is that at times it felt uneven. Perhaps the submissions prevented this edition to be as strong and powerful as I had hoped. But this is a personal opinion.
My favorite stories included: Memento Mori Passing Through The Girl with Pretension in Her Hair Olivia
Take the time to explore this publication, you won't be sorry.
I love flash fiction...if done properly. For the most part, these stories lacked the needed oomph to make me feel something about the story. Sure ther...moreI love flash fiction...if done properly. For the most part, these stories lacked the needed oomph to make me feel something about the story. Sure there was the shock element; but shock gets old if there is not anything else to accompany it. Gary Braunbeck declares that "Arnzen can rightfully claim his place as the Donald Barthelme of horror." I don't see it. For me, this collection is nowhere near the caliber of Barthelme.
Oh where or where should I start? Should I talk about how depressing each story is? Or should I rave how wonderful Melanie Rae Thon uses words and des...moreOh where or where should I start? Should I talk about how depressing each story is? Or should I rave how wonderful Melanie Rae Thon uses words and descriptions and settings and characters to convey the perfect emotion, never going overboard, never under utilizing her talents? We’ll come back to both of those issues in a moment.
As Amanda mentioned earlier to me, the Literary Gods have been blessing me with some really amazing reads as of late. The most recent LET THE NORTHERN LIGHTS ERASE YOUR NAME was an absolute joy—albeit, in that strange melancholy I-think-I-am-depressed-but-don’t-really-feel-depressed sort of way. FRIST, BODY by Melanie Rae Thon is definitely another great find that I would never have even known about had it not magically appeared in a donation box a few months back. This lithe volume is composed of seven stories that all gravitate toward the subject of body: real, imagined, created, destroyed, loved or loathed.
But before getting into the book, I want to ask one simple question: Where have you gone Ms. Thon? In 1996, Granta named you one of the “best young American novelists.” That is quite an accomplishment; but since 2001, you haven’t published anything. Why? Your voice is amazing. Your use of images to invoke feeling rivals the best working today. We, as readers, need you. Come back. Please.
So the stories. Well, to be honest, I really don’t know where to begin. I refuse to even discuss the first story, First, Body because by even hinting about how great it is I feel will diminish the magic one gets while reading it for the first time. Let’s start with Little White Sister. This story is about race and drugs and what it’s like to be alone. Full of crisp and sensuous language, images that burn into your mind, and characters that you just know you’ve seen before—but never extended a moment of conversation their way—which brings one to a level of misery never encountered before. Call this hyperbole, if you want, but while reading this story I knew I had in my hands a rich text, a text of thoughts and ideas that brims with possibilities, even if these possibilities are of the sordid, darker variety.
Am I even making sense?
Let’s move on to Nobody’s Daughter. This story recounts the lives of three women. A mother and two daughters. The nameless narrator thinks back over her life and how change—never invited, never wanted—altered what she thought was happiness into a bleak reality that she must now own as if this was all she ever knew. Elements of prostitution and drug usage seep on every page for the first third of the story, while acceptance of being replaced by a different family when her mother remarries takes the story the rest of the way. Death and homelessness and destitution permeate through phrases and descriptions.
This haunting description comes from page 102:
In her pocket, one vial of crack, almost gone. In her veins, strangers’ blood. She possessed ninety-six pounds. I want to be exact. The ninety-six pounds included the weight of skin, coat, bowels, lungs; the weight of dirt under her nails; the weight of semen, three men last night and five the night before.
Brutal--but, strangely, beautiful.
And when the man’s family replaces the narrator, Thon writes from page 105:
How many men can pass through one woman? How many children can one woman have? I tried to count: Clare’s father and Clare, my father and me, two men between, two children never born whose tiny fingers still dug somewhere.
Am I doing this book justice? I feel so confused. Sad. Little, almost.
I am going to end with this story: Snow Thief. As you may have guessed, most of the stories have women as the main characters; me not being a woman I sometimes found the grief of what they felt to be hard to relate to in a physical way. That is until this story. Snow Thief asks the question: Do we become orphaned as adults when our parents die? I’m not sure if there is an answer to this question, but Thon uses some extraordinary images of an elk hunt, the mother’s stroke, and an illicit sexual liaison between the narrator and the narrator’s father’s friend as apt examples of how we change from childhood to adulthood. As the narrator deals with her mother dying, a brother who is only looking for the final financial reward upon his mother’s death, she begins to understand that the older she became the more she realized the less she knew about her parents or herself. In dark, lyrical language, Thon describes these feelings in a dream-like way, smearing the boundary between reality and fantasy…
Reading over what I’ve written, I don’t think I’ve done a very good job of explaining myself. (See what you’ve done to me Ms. Thon? I’m a blabbering idiot, smitten with your words.)
I guess the best way I can describe this is: FIRST, BODY is a stark indictment on what it means to be trapped in one’s body. We are who we are, and no matter how hard you work to become someone else, you are always going to have the same skin-suit as you had the previous day. Depressing? Absolutely. But it is also magical and uplifting. Surreal and grounded. This collection of stories challenges and risks the reader to take an inventory of who they are. At least that’s what it did for me.