Charlie’s the newish guard at the women’s shelter.
(from Best New American Voices, 2006)
An excellent story. Uncomfortable in reasonable ways, even when reasonability is hard to come by in its characters or situations. The setting is vividly described, but in such a way that you may believe all details are important. And so they are.
More to the point, of course, is the vibe, the mood, the harsh worldview. Everybody’s got a violent streak or a hidden weakness, or darkness, in them. Nobody’s for-real trustworthy, though you end up feeling bad for the lot of ’em. At times the points are made too bluntly, or there’s too fine a point on the central themes, but hell, it’s your world Mr. Altschul. I’ll buy it. I’ll bite.
My closest literary confidant, who recommended this story (for its awesomeness) and this collection (for reasons more complex), says that the end of “A New Kind of Gravity” turns the ugly mirror back at the reader a bit, recalling this moment from Araby:
“Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.”
Couldn’t find “A New Kind of Gravity” online, but here‘s “Araby.” And here‘s a link to Andrew Foster Altschul’s bio.