by Jason Makansi
Goods is a weakly "linked" collection in that every story bears
a female narrator, point of view, or perspective on plot lines likely
to appeal to women readers, usually the trajectories of present and
former relationships as they appear from different stages of life.
Although the situations and characters change in each story, the
narrator, or main character, in each case seems pretty much the same
type of person. Five of the six stories feature first person narration.
The collection should appeal to readers who prefer their stories light
and airy, easier to digest than lit fiction, lacking the visceral
visuals of television pseudo drama, and with a long radius of space
between the narrator or main female character and the rest of the
author’s imagined world. In other words, the author does not
venture too far from the central female character’s head.
The author’s hope, I believe, is that
these stories might serve as a collective 'shoulder to cry on' for
women readers. That is, other women readers would relate to these
stories in wistful, nostalgic ways and perhaps see aspects of their own
lives illuminated. That they will. And that, unfortunately, is the
Achilles heel of the collection. Reality is, with rare exceptions,
replicated rather than enhanced like raised Braille to the spoken word.
This isn’t to suggest that these stories capture the
author’s real life (I of course would have no idea about that),
but that the characters and what happens to them, and what they think
about, are as normal as reminiscing with a long-lost friend over a cup
of coffee. Damaged Goods has plenty of one type of fiction--the writing
of something that to the author’s knowledge didn’t happen
or isn’t 'true.' True fiction - the bending and distorting of
reality until you only recognize it as something different, and the
process of discovery leaves you breathless — is not necessarily
present here. And the latter may not have been the author’s
is teen girl angst, little more, where even a classmate’s
suicide, the one dramatic event, is treated almost as a normal daily
occurrence. Wishful Thinking
takes us a few years ahead to college and a possible fraternity rape
through which a best male friend becomes the narrator’s patient
savior and lover. Closure, a
short imagined conversation and meet up with a former love interest,
just ends in the strangest way and I’m not sure what it was all
about. Reflections of a Marriage
is suspected infidelity but does have a touching, if a tad sappy,
ending. Emma’s Wings I
am sure will appeal to any parent who has flown with a young child
although it came across to me as lacking the emotional depth necessary
for the event taking place.
One story, Live
to Regret, comes the closest to challenging reality rather than
holding it up limply to a mirror. A woman, Denise, is confronted by a
stranger who 'gets in her space' and ultimately asks her, 'What was
your one regret?' This sends Denise off on a parallel-path journey of
the mind, a double helix of her 'real' life with her husband and
children and an imagined life with her first love. I confess I was
confused by the story but I’d rather be confused and challenged
than bereft of new thoughts about the world.
If you are looking to share the mental space
of a woman at various stages of her life as she ruminates on lives and
loves, pick this collection up knowing you won’t have to think
too hard. If more serious lit fiction is your bag, pick it up for Live to Regret and how in that
story Ms Bostock Kelley begins to tear apart reality and put it back
|Jason Makansi has
published several poems and half a dozen short stories in a variety of
literary journals, as well as one accepted by the Amazon Shorts Program
and available at www.amazon.com/shorts for the low, low price of 49
cents (you read that right). He was accepted into, and recently
participated in, the 2009 Sewanee Writer’s Conference. Makansi
has also published three professional books and numerous works of
non-fiction in the fields of engineering, energy, science, and economics.
Publisher: The Write One
Date: June 2009
bio: Deborah Bostock-Kelley
was born in Tampa, Florida, and spent her childhood, teen, and
adulthood writing plays, short stories, song lyrics, and poetry. She
still resides in her home town with her husband Ken and daughter Meghan.
with Deborah Bostock-Kelley
this book (used or
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