A girl walks into a diner but she wishes it was a bar. A girl walks into a diner for breakfast. A blinking red light in the window says “Eat Good Food.”
This is a tough book to review, because it takes a disparaging tone from the get-go towards the traditional ways people try to identify with narratives and interpret them. After quoting an agent who wrote to Elizabeth Ellen that they couldn’t determine the collection’s stakes, the dust jacket adds, “Saul Stories, in the spirit of films such as Gummo and Trash Humpers, has no obvious stakes.”
Some mornings at my office in Midtown, / post-9/11, shopping bags appeared / on my desk. In them, four-inch Louboutins, / a vintage bomber, Japanese stationary,
Coffins had already been ordered. The promise to the lynch mob by the County fathers nearly two years previously would now be kept, but the Moore Six continued to believe in Scipio Jones.
For the great stories alone found in this collection, it would be a masterwork, but the true game-changer is how the collection works together, going from lyric realism to controlled-yet-wildly reaching stories of imagination in which the author and reader disappear before the potency of story—stories which take our world and invert it and show it impossibly aching, failing, bursting at the epoch of dystopian flounder.
TONY MAGISTRALE is Professor and Chair of the English Department at the University of Vermont. He is the author of What She Says About Love.
Blacks hid in the woods, coppices and in the slough that ran roughly along Route 44. Several blacks emerged from the slough holding up their hands, but they were shot and killed. Other African-Americans simply ran, but they too were gunned down–frequently among lineated cotton rows–at the hands of the posses.
I can indeed conflate the convincing pieces that led to the conclusion Lonnie took part in the Elaine Race Massacre, but I cannot reconcile my love for Lonnie and his apparent views about and role in racism, as practiced in the Arkansas Delta by whites during the first part of the 20th century.
It’s hard to read Marcus Pactor’s Vs. Death Noises without thinking of J.G. Ballard. The crime-scene labeled portrayal of character in “The Archived Steve,” the incantation-based narrative in “Spell Compendium,” the number-tagged dialogue in “Loss? Found?” and others–many of the stories in this collection defy traditional story structure in favor of forms we (and the characters) encounter in the less-than-literary aspects of our technology-ridden lives.
OLENA KALYTIAK DAVIS is the author of And Her Soul Out of Nothing and Shattered Sonnets, Love Cards, and Other Off and Back Handed Importunities.
Mike, thirteen, steals a can of Coke from the cooler in back of the old store. That night, he dreams he is caught, but the next morning he can’t remember his dreams. It’s summer. The can of Coke is at his friend’s house, on the ping pong table. He didn’t leave it there on purpose. He wasn’t thirsty when he stole it.