Monday, July 18, 2016

Some little escape pieces

kw: continued review, story reviews, collections, short stories, poetry, literature

A few more pieces I liked over the past four days of readings in Pushcart Prize XL (2016), edited by Bill Henderson and many others:

Anthony Doerr brings us a capsule history of Boise, Idaho, as lived by the first family to settle there, in "The Thing With Feathers That Perches in the Soul", which is a line from Emily Dickinson. It is told in a third person, personal style that feels like second person. One feels placed within the family cabin.

I have read two other dystopian stories of the forced demise of print. "The Knowledge Gallery" by Joanna Scott comes at it from a new angle. The writers that matter most engage in a kind of aggressive samizdat, fiercely deflecting all attempts to describe them or to collect their work, in a society that punishes excessive use of paper.

"The Soldier of Michtl√°n" by Rigoberto Gonzalez, seems an experiment in building a pounding heartbeat by ending every line with the same word, "soldier". Not entirely rhythmic, the lines flirt among tetrameter and pentameter and hexameter, keeping the reader off balance. I must admit that this item really is poetry.

Another very uncomfortable piece, a new kind of reportage: "Food and Worker Safety Across the Globe: A Nervous and Incomplete Case Study". It will make you wonder if your iPhone, tablet or other similar gadgets are really worth their human cost; and a parallel thread shows how some of "the elite" pay for farm worker exploitation because of the incredibly poor sanitation that results. E. coli salad, anyone?

I am nearing page 400, with about 150 to go. I don't plan to do more than skim the apparatuses.

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