This particular issue had a majority of good to excellent stories, well written, innovative and interesting. But there were a couple not so great.
Men in Brown by Joan Connor is about a woman’s fantasies about her UPS man, and she gets to date him. My first honest gut reaction? YA. To me, particularly after reading some real winning stories, this story seemed to be both for a fifteen year-old and written by one. I’ve been through creative writing classes and this just rang back memories.
Okay? Okay? Why doesn’t he go away and take that black licorice whip of hair with him? But I am a sucker for sweets. An all-day sucker, a sucker for succor. "Fine," I say. "Everything’s fine." My voice sounds as thin as a spaghetti strap slipping from a shoulder. (p. 198)
The story is loaded with food simile, too loaded. The alliteration here is more pronounced than in other sections, but the cholately chocolate, browner than brown, three or four phrases spent to emphasize a statement sounds flippantly comic instead of the author taking the time to edit, and find the single best way to say something. Maybe the voice is consistent and strong, but for me it was obnoxiously annoying. O’Connor, by the way, is weighty with credentials as prizewinner and teacher, so maybe it’s me.
Bartleby, by Anthony Farrington, is yet another divorced father with two small children trying to restart his life in a new neighborhood. It involves a strange little boy next door, the boy’s stranger father, and even stranger yet, the boy’s mother who insists that the newcomers feed a dog that we’re not sure is real. And bugs; lotsa bugs. It was good writing, but the story just kind of was there without making any real impact.
There is one yet that I haven’t read. It’s quite long and I will, tonight or tomorrow, go over it.