a Golden Griddle in Alabama he met a woman at the counter. Bought her
a cup of coffee and watched her stir it one way and then the other.
She pressed her finger into some spilled sugar, told him she was
missing the part of her tongue that recognized sweet. At that, his
Reviewed by Mark Staniforth
Hunter's Daddy's is a collection of 23 jagged little micro-fictions
in the southern gothic genre. By any standards it's a genre that
doesn't take a whole lot of prisoners where harsh realities are
concerned. Hunter takes it a stage further with her tight,
razor-sharp prose and an uncompromising cast of characters so
deep-down on their luck it's hard to see how they'll ever climb back
out. In Food Luck a young guy bullies his kid brother into
increasingly repulsive competitive eating feats. In Finding There,
a guy abandons his wife and kids and sets off aimlessly across the
state, hooking up with strangers in seedy motels. In The Fence,
a wife derives sexual pleasure from a dog collar and an electric
Scales, a teenager seeks solace in her friend's weight gain:
the kitchen she piles a tub of ice cream, spray cheese, Doritos, a
six-pack of diet Coke, and pretzels onto a tray. We put it between us
on the couch and she sits, cross-legged and naked, and watches me
eat. Is that good? she asks. That looks really good.
the best story, the shockingly unforgettable Marie Noe - Talks To
You About Her Kids, the narrator describes the serial-killing of
her children in language so empty it leaves you gasping.
was a moron. She never even opened her eyes, though Art swears she
had one blue one and one brown one. By the time she was born I’d
had a headache for two years straight, and the fact that she never
made a sound, didn’t look at me, slept through the night, that
weighed more on me than any kinda screaming she coulda done. Like her
quiet was creating a noise louder than all the other babies combined.
It split my ears. I’d pinch her til she’d cry to make up for it,
and I guess that’s wrong. She was dead after 24 days. Art went
downtown one night and got the word Constance tattooed on his upper
arm and when he came home I told him what a idiot he was.
triumph is to make her writing so utterly unsentimental, so devoid of
judgement, that you feel for a lot of these folk. Those with
sensitive dispositions should skip it (they're hardly likely to have
even read this far). Even those who consider themselves broad-minded
may baulk at the occasional plot-twist. But crucially, despite the
pitch-dark storylines, with their recurring themes of food abuse and
dirty, casual sex, there's no sense of shocking for the sake of it.
There's a few stories that don't quite hit the mark. But those that
do will stick to you like bonfire smoke, impossible to rub out no
matter how hard you try.
It's an unforgettable collection, published
by Featherproof Books, fast making a name for themselves as a daring
and innovative short fiction house. The paperback version's packaged
up like a bait box. It's appropriate, because it hooks you in and
doesn’t want to let go, and the more you're left hanging there, the
less you find you want to.
Read a story from this
collection in Nerve
|Mark Staniforth is a
writer and journalist from North Yorkshire, England. He has been
nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His first book of short stories,
Fryupdale, is available free via Smashwords.