Grady's Reviews > Three Ways of the Saw

Three Ways of the Saw by Matt  Mullins
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's review
Nov 01, 2011

it was amazing

'He who touches this book touches the ghost of a man still living.'

Matt Mullins carries many titles - writer, poet, musician, experimental filmmaker and educator. He is capable of writing some of the grittiest work to hit the reading public is a long time. THREE WAYS OF A SAW is a collection of short stories - some a page or two in length some much longer, but each carrying an ax-like blow that knocks your breath out. From his own words these seem to be memoir like episodes of his life and if so he has had a bizarre childhood and young adulthood, filled with incidents that many would not survive.

Mullins bravely opens his collections of memories (if indeed that is what these are) with a story about his best childhood friend Ted whose I Dare You games results in a physical contact that suggests a near sexual encounter only to serve as a fence that separates the two boys for years until later in life our narrator reflects on the envy he has for the reformed Ted as he is getting married. Another story shares a Winnebago family trip form their home in Detroit out to San Francisco and the encounters they have with bikers and the arguing our narrator hears form his parents. Into Mullins' stories he inserts some passages of self reflection and philosophy, as he does in the finely sculpted tale 'No Prints, No Negative': 'We all have tow faces, one of them unknown to those who love us. We've all slid a negative of ourselves beneath the picture we show to others.' In 'The Bachelor's Last Will and Testament' he states 'This afternoon at the bar you'll sit on a torn barstool bathed in the swirling, dust-moted sunbeam that falls through door's window, making a last supper of seventy-five cent rafts and a greasy pulled-pork sandwich as you tend the chemical fire in your gut and wonder about your future with HER. Love aside, you'll drink the beer, pick at the sandwich, and try not to settle on the idea that you're asking too much of yourself.'

Other little brief treasures, such as 'Its not in the spaces that might grow between people, but in the ways we reach across' that glow like old used light bulbs that hang from wires form the ceiling illuminating the otherwise bleak landscape upon which Mullins stages his tales. There is exceptionally brutal pain here, stark alienation, longing for connection out of self destructive acts and tendencies and thoughts. His obsession with alienation comes not only from the stories he sets up but also form his gritty prose that rubs like coarse sandpaper as you turn the ages of this book. Matt Mullins deserves to be read. He WILL become an important part of our literary world.

Grady Harp


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Reading Progress

November 1, 2011 – Started Reading
November 1, 2011 – Shelved
April 8, 2014 –
0.0% "Read and reviewed here already!"
October 9, 2014 – Finished Reading

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