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New World Order
Derek Green

Mountain light had set the edges of things on fire...I stood facing the autumnal wind. It swept uphill from the south, as if from Antarctica itself, fresh and fierce, making the chaparral and scrub trees shiver like feeling things on the stepped hills below"

Reviewed by Kristin Thiel

A couple of Green’s stories satisfy from beginning through end—Johnson, the Driver; Macho—and one, Almost Home, falls quite flat for offering little more than a cliché. That leaves most of this collection’s stories somewhere in between. Fortunately they’re closer to done than not. 

Green’s idea of the new world order, Americans stumbling about as tourists or crashing about as expats or corporate money grabbers, is unfortunately not so new. But it is happening on more complex and pervasive levels than ever before, and from that crisscrossing of personal relationships and business deals Green weaves spot-on dialogue and characterization of people and places. 

It’s difficult to find an unbelievable conversation in Green’s stories. In Samba, the reader completely understands why Heeber’s eyes pool with tears when his boss and coworker arrive more than half an hour late to dinner and then insult him: 

Ellis walked a pace ahead of Luciano, palms upturned. His smile was draining away. 

"Jesus Christ, Heeber. Look how you’re dressed!" 

Heeber looked. He was wearing shorts, a T-shirt, sandals. It was hot. He looked back up.

"You’re wearing a damn Tigger T-shirt, Heeber!" 

"But you said casual, Mr. Ellis. I—" 

"Casual, Heeber, not kindergarten. God damn." 

Ellis had cruel blue eyes—pale, animal-like. Heeber often found it hard to look at the man. 

In The Dangerous Season, the four main characters are nothing short of the young, speed-loving, drink-loving race car drivers they are supposed to be. This is their story, one they attack voraciously. And still Green pauses to give the reader a glimpse into other people, into different layers of reality. A woman approaches one of the men while they loung at a bar, and they flirt in Spanish and Portuguese, neither of which the narrator understands. Later in the evening, she exclaims in English: “‘You speak English’ I said. She gave me a bored look. ‘Obviously.’” She sucked on a cigarette and regarded DiCaprio, who was more interested in the sketch than in her." 

Most of the stories keep a reader interested—both in the writer’s language and in the wonder of the characters’ voyages—until the final page, when everything fizzles to a halt. The stories that work best still end of course, but they twist just a little there, casting the story that was in a slightly different light and planting a seed in the reader’s imagination for the story that could be.

Kristin Thiel writes short fiction and book reviews and tries to keep news about these current on her website. She is associate editor at Indigo Editing, and is fiction editor for the Writers’ Dojo’s forthcoming online journal and resource center.


PublisherAutumn House Press

Publication Date: June 2008

Paperback/Hardback? Paperback

First collection?Yes

Author bio: Derek Green is looking beyond his first collection of short stories—he’s at work on his first novel. Though he won the University of Michigan’s Jule and Avery Hopwood Award in Creative Writing three times while studying there, his first major published works were in nonfiction, as a a freelance journalist for national and regional periodicals.

Read an interview with Derek Green

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