Read 12/31/14 - 1/6/15 3 Stars - Recommended to fans of bizarre and bold flash fiction / super short stories Pages: 145 Publisher: FC2 Released: October 2Read 12/31/14 - 1/6/15 3 Stars - Recommended to fans of bizarre and bold flash fiction / super short stories Pages: 145 Publisher: FC2 Released: October 2014
An effective short story always knows when to end itself. It says what needs to be said, politely ushers the reader through the front door when it's done, and closes it tightly behind us.
Ryan MacDonald's somewhat loosely interconnected stories (hello, Havershamp?) capture deceivingly small slices of life that leave rather large impressions on us. Not unlike quick little slaps to the face, the sting of his language is unexpected and his words linger behind like ghosts, filling up the spaces between what we read and what we feel in the hours that follow.
Through his stories, Ryan offers us a rotation of glimpses, parading snippets of his characters' lives before our eyes. And as we experience these moments with him, we have seconds to decide - do we judge or reserve judgement, do we cringe with concern or smile with camaraderie?
A father stores grotesque animal parts in his family's refrigerator in "A Confluence of Occurances"; a man forgets to feed his finches in "A Small Death"; we experience a husband's grief at the hands of his wife's unpleasantness in "Wakefield". A bored kid plays with a crawdad in "Into the Woods". A little boy finds a mentor in his father's mail-ordered mexican cowboy. Someone finds Richard Gere very grating when in close, confined quarters. A brother and sister secretly revel in the stink of a dead skunk.
Oh yes, reader, beware. Where there be animals, there also be death. Ryan, like so many authors before him, can't seem to have a furry or crustaceous creature in a story without bringing about its death swiftly and (mostly) unnecessarily. Whether we enter the story at the moment of death or are pulled in at the burial scene, these stories struck out at me the strongest because they tended to break my heart the hardest. Well, those and the stories about familial distress (they stuck with me but didn't break my heart). Those mostly elicited snuffs and giggles....more
Listened 11/17/14 - 11/24/14 3 Stars - Recommended to fans of edgy, straight up trailer trash fiction Audio: 8.3 hours Publisher: FSG Narrator: Kathleen EListened 11/17/14 - 11/24/14 3 Stars - Recommended to fans of edgy, straight up trailer trash fiction Audio: 8.3 hours Publisher: FSG Narrator: Kathleen Early Released: November 2014
Typical teenage girls getting into typical teenage girl stuff, only so much worse. In Ugly Girls, the writing was always on the wall of what ultimately boils down to the story of two incredibly incompatible BFF's who test one another, pushing each another from bad decision to bad decision, eschewing the consequences in lieu of the thrill of the moment, until that one final moment. The moment neither can take back though they wish like hell they could.
Though you don't want to, you'll find the edgy, hard-core trashiness of the girls intoxicating. Baby Girl has made herself physically ugly, shaving her head, outlining her lips in a grotesque clown's mouth, donning her brother's old clothes, while Perry's ugliness is more behavioral, emotional, using her physical loveliness as a weapon.
Home's nothing to get all worked up over. Both live boring, dead-end lives. Baby Girl lives with her uncle and struggles with the fact that her once handsome and devilish older brother has been reduced to a drooling, temper-tantrum-throwing five-year-old as the result of a tragic bike accident. Perry, she lives with her drunk-as-a-skunk mother, who never seems to care where she is or what she's up to and her step-father, a saint of a man for being able to put up with the two of 'em.
Oh god, how this book brought the memories of my teenage years rushing back to me. For all intents and purposes, I was a fairly "good girl". I'd sneak around with the boys in the middle of the night, sure, slipping out the bedroom window like Perry did, my father never the wiser. I skipped school and chilled at friends' houses listening to music and watching them get high. A group of us would hang out in the local trailer park - skin heads and hippies talking about the ways they were gonna change the world, gawking at the strung out pregnant girls shoving ice cream and pickles into their junkie mouths. Making nuisances of ourselves at the local coffee shop, batting our under-aged eyelashes at the cute college boys who worked here. Cruising the main streets by the beach with the windows down, radio blasting, the wind in our ears, like nothing could touch us, just passing the time till something better came along.
Unlike us though, to get even with the world for the bum deck they were dealt, Perry and Baby Girl get off on having fun at other peoples expense, joyriding in the middle of the night, stealing cars, skipping school and cutting classes. They even end up in the dunk-tank overnight for attempting to steal stuff from the local pharmacy. But all that becomes child's play when the two of them discover that they're both being chatted up by the same guy - a guy who has a serious crush on Perry. When the girls finally agree to meet up and show him what's what, that's where the real trouble starts brewing. And once they start that ball rolling, there's no stopping its momentum.
From slow start to awkward and abrupt ending, Lindsay's multi-charactered novel is all about the ugly. The ugliness inside of us, how feeling ugly makes you act ugly, like there's no other way to be. Ugly Girls is a hopeless, grimy, gritty sort of novel that leaves you feeling as unwashed and skanky as its characters do and makes you thankful that you aren't raising teenage girls. Though now I feel I have to go and warn my teenage son about girls like them. ...more