by Tania Hershman
I was Sean Lovelace, I might begin my review in the persona of Humphrey
Bogart, Snoopy or a tree that grows coffee pots, enticing you in with
the comic and seemingly preposterious, and then, once I have ensnared
you, hitting you with something far darker, leaving an indelible
impression. Such are Lovelace's short short stories. Don't be
fooled by his pretty-sounded surname, he is not going to let you off
How Some People Like Their Eggs is an excellent example of the impact of the order of stories in a collection. I began the first story, Meteorite, having never read anything by Lovelace. The
first paragraph tells of the "only recorded meteorite to actually hit a
human being", the human in question being "a woman with hair wrapped
high like a hornet's nest". I wondered where this might
go. Lovelace lulls you gently for a moment, then leukemia is
mentioned and you are suddenly aware that you are not where you
expected, that this is not funny. But Lovelace does not wallow in
pathos. This story is deeply real, made up of aborted attempts at
conversation, apparent tangents that are not tangential ("two sorority
girls stroll by looking absolutely themselves"), the most ridiculous
("The Ten Commandments for Cancer Survival") and an ending which, in
saying so little, says everything.
beginning with this story does is set the tone for the other 9 stories,
the longest of which is six (smaller than normal) pages. The reader now
expects oddities not just for comedy's sake, but accompanied by a punch
in the gut, a more disturbing message.
may be a cliche, but Lovelace does more in a few pages than many a
"short" story writer I have encountered. I think it would be a
disservice to attempt to precis any of the short shorts here, and a
shame to spoil the delight of coming to them fresh. I will say that
flash fiction lends itself extremely well to being re-read again and
again to probe it further. I read the book straight through, then
dipped in and out, and then read it again in a different order, the
first story and then the last, the second and the second-to-last,
working my way to the middle of the book.
Lovelace's writing makes excellent use of repetition: in Meteorite,
for example, there are three mentions in three pages of cups, paper and
plastic, a symbol, perhaps, of emptiness and disposability?; in Charlie Brown's Diary: Excerpts, each diary entry begins with the same bizarre phrase: "I wake, and hear the birds coughing".
His openings can bowl you over: "My girlfriend was home from
work, at least two hours late, and three inches shorter, which meant it
had been a tough day." (Molasses).
were one or two stories that didn't leave as indelible a mark as the
rest, and I wondered if perhaps it was because I didn't follow certain
American pop cuture references, or whether I had read them all too
quickly without pausing, or simply because taste is subjective and I
don't think I have ever enjoyed or been moved by every single story in
Lovelace is an author whose work I shall definitely seek out, now that
I've been formally introduced. Lovelace is a professor of creative
writing, and I envy his students, having a teacher whose own writing is
one of the clearest examples of creativity I've had the pleasure to
Read an excerpt from one of the
from this collection on Rose Metal Press's website
is the editor of the Short Review. Her short story collection, The
White Road and Other Stories, is published by Salt Modern Fiction and was commended by the 2009 Orange Award for New Writers.
Third Annual Rose Metal Press Short Short Chapbook Contest
bio: Sean Lovelace
is a professor of creative writing at Ball State University. He writes
fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Recent publications include
Willow Springs, Diagram, Sonora Review, and Black Warrior Review. His
works have won several awards, including the prestigious Crazyhorse
Fiction Prize. He blogs at seanlovelace.com. He also likes to run, far.
with Sean Lovelace
this book (used or
The Author's Recommended Bookseller: Rose Metal Press
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