Monthly Archives: June 2007

Rebecca Curtis, "Solicitation"

These are the people in my neighborhood who knock on my door because they want something.

(from Twenty Grand)

Well, Rebecca Curtis is officially off the deep end but at least there’s water in the pool. I can’t be sure if that makes sense. But as weird and fun as this story was, the sing-songy storytelling and smuggy repetition thing can get tiresome.

Rebecca Curtis, "The Alpine Slide"

A girl takes her first job working for a charming man at an alpine slide.

(from Twenty Grand)

We were not excellent workers, mostly because we were stunned by the pleasure of one another’s company. Soon our legs became scraped from lifting sleds, and our arms grew sore and then muscular. Our skin turned gold. Our fifteen-minute breaks stretched to thirty. Instead of half price, our snacks were free, because the snack-stand crew, a lower echelon of workers who were trapped in grease and darkness, offered them to us that way.

Besides being sharply told — it’s drunk with tactile images and memorable moments — this
story speaks a grim truth the world needs to know: Alpine slides are horrific non-fun death traps running with blood. Obviously, uh, I could say more about this story that I enjoyed very much. But tonight’s about reading. You want some insightful bloggery? Read it and write it up yourself.

Rebecca Curtis, "The Witches"

Ruth borrows her stepdad’s boat on prom night.

(from Twenty Grand)

Wow. This one blew me a away. There’s a key plot thing left up in the air, I won’t spoil it by saying what it might be except to night that the reader would have to make a dark assumption or two, but it really would change everything. Anyway. Awesome.

Rebecca Curtis, “Monsters”

Some trees turn into monsters and want to eat a member of the family.

(from Twenty Grand)

This is another freaky story, almost allegoricalesqueish, but not really. And while it never feigns depth, it’s pretty engrossing. Poor Ellie.

Rebecca Curtis, “The Wolf at the Door”

Don’t mess with the wolf.

(from Twenty Grand)

The wolf isn’t really a wolf, though he does have some of the supernatural viciousness you might expect from a fairytale villain. This was a short allegorical thing that I wasn’t sucked into enough to analyze. It reminded me of a certain Mountain Goats record.

Rebecca Curtis, "Twenty Grand"

Mom loses the old Armenian coin her mom gave her.

(from Twenty Grand and Other Tales of Love and Money)

Our driveway was a dirt road that wound through a field. It was often lined by eight-foot banks—which I climbed on my way home from school—with teetering, sand-specked bucket-lumps at their tops. Sporadically, a kid came with a tractor. When he left, the lane was clear. But overnight the wind swept snow across the shelf, up over the banks, and into the road. By morning the drifts were as deep as if the driveway hadn’t been plowed at all. Every day, my mother called the kid, who was slow and did the easy jobs in town first, to try to get him to come. Then she shoveled a path to the woodpile and one to the car.

Damn. This one’s a total heartbreaker. I mean, it’s funny sometimes and the ever bleaker situations the characters find themselves in ring true right to the bone. But ouch. My heart.
Read it here.

Alex Mindt, "Male of the Species"

This is West Texas, you just can’t fail the star quarterback.

(from Male of the Species)

Like many of the stories in Alex Mindt’s collection, the title track is a cinematic, classicky rumination on manhood as a concept. The unwritten rules are all but written out, especially in this one where the husband seems to be too smart and/or idealistic for the real world. And the real world is harsh, what with all the irrational pressures and unfaithfulnesses and so on. But you have to stay tuned because sometimes the guy will surprise you.

Jana Martin, "Russian Lover"

A check and apology letters to her ex-mother-in-law.

(from Russian Lover and Other Stories)

I figured after reading so much Jana Martin over the last week or so, i figured it was time to give the title track a spin. It’s a relatively long one, and a bit more conceptual that the others. The letters are well-composed but not so writerly (except for the conspicuous word “hale”) that I felt like it was Martin’s words, and not her narrator’s, that I was reading. This character is charming and witty, and sometimes shows a dark side. It comes from a place of hurt; she’s over her husband’s betrayal in some ways but there’s a per of her that, understandably can’t deal with all the loose ends it created. Martin really really kicked ass with this one. Although she rarely digs deep in the poetry bag, some of her sentences are stunning and worthy of immediate, repeat readings.