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Monday, September 13, 2021

Reader's Diary #2235 - Cené Hale: Frito Pie

There's a bit in Cené Hale's flash fiction "Frito Pie" when a guy orders a coke and when asked what kind, he responds Dr. Pepper. It threw me off for a second until I remember that in some parts of the U.S. they used "coke" as a generic term for what is more commonly referred to as "pop" in Canada or "soda" in the rest of the U.S.. I don't think Hale should of avoided such regionalism, it made the story more authentic.

Unfortunately, the story went no where and ended abruptly. It's a shame given the strong setting and defined characters.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Reader's Diary #2234- Jael Richardson: Gutter Child

For the first half of Jael Richardson's Gutter Child, I couldn't help but think of it as a young adult novel. I suppose some of this could be attributed to it being a coming of age story; not that all coming-of-age stories are necessary aimed at teen readers but when the protagonist (Elimina) is of that age group herself, it lends itself easily to such classification. More than that, it wasn't exactly subtle in its messages. Set in a fictional world where darker skinned individuals are from the Gutter and are forced into schools on the Mainland to pay off historical "debts," the parallels to real life residential schools and to the mistreatment of Black people in North America are pretty on the nose. 

This isn't a criticism per se. There's a case to be made that subtlety is overrated. However, it felt more like an adult novel in the latter half of the book when Elimina has had her baby. The book is focused more on the complexities of interpersonal relationships, while still not losing sight of the societal critique at the heart of the novel. In a way, the novel itself comes of age at this point.


Monday, September 06, 2021

Reader's Diary #2233- Thomas Hill: Painting No. 91

In Thomas Hill's flash fiction "Painting No. 1" a man who has become financially wealthy in adulthood has finally realized his dream of owning 100 paintings. He tells the story of how one in particular, the one that stands out from the others as the work of an amateur, means the most to him. More than the work itself, it's a connection he felt to the artist.

I quite enjoyed it and though he doesn't quite, can't quite, articulate exactly why the artist's story resonates so much with him, it's nonetheless relatable. We all like a piece of art (a poem, a song, a movie, etc) that we know is objectively bad, those supposed "guilty pleasures," that for whatever reasons hit us personally. 

Friday, September 03, 2021

Reader's Diary #2232- Sina Grace (writer), Derek Charm (artist): Jughead's Time Police

I'm not familiar with all of the comics that the recent Loki TV series pulled from, but after reading Sina Grace's first volume of Jughead's Time Police, I'd not be surprised if those comics were also an inspiration. Despite a more lighthearted Archie Comics approach (it begins with Jughead upset that he lost a pie baking competition after all), the story is shockingly similar to Loki

Confronted with alternate timelines that need to be erased according to the Time Police, Jughead encounters variants, awesomely drawn like past versions of himself- including Werewolf Jughead and even the Riverdale TV series character. 

It's fun, heartfelt, and full of wild sci-fi adventure.


Monday, August 30, 2021

Reader's Diary #2231 - Bobbie Ann Mason: Shiloh

 Poor Leroy. 

The protagonist of Bobbie Ann Mason's short story "Shilo" finds himself at home, permanently, after a work injury cut short his truck driving career. He's trying to refocus, discovering new interests and hobbies, and for the most part, I would say, making the best of a bad situation.

That said, it's also an adjustment for his wife who isn't as used to having him around. 

It's one of those depressing, realistic slice of life stories. Yet, for all that, I see it as having a hint of hope. Finding oneself isn't necessarily bad on its own, it's just unfortunate when others get caught in the wake. 

Friday, August 27, 2021

Reader's Diary #2230 - Ed Brisson (writer), Jonas Scharf (artist): Avengers of the Wasteland

 

I've often complained that Marvel (and DC) don't let superheroes die and yet continually add new characters, leaving the world completely overstuffed and overpowered. So, the Wastelands world (which you may be familiar with through the Old Man Logan comics or Logan movie) is right up my alley. 

Set in a post-apocalyptic world where the Red Skull had won and most superheroes were killed off, there are only a few stragglers left and they're mostly amateurs, descendants of the old guard, folks who found and made use of old superhero tech, and the like. 

But setting and premise are just two (albeit important) components. Fortunately, this particular story also has a great, action filled plot (they have to take on Dr. Doom, who unfortunately was a survivor) and that perfect Marvel blend of humor, flawed heroes, and hints of higher ideals. 


Monday, August 23, 2021

Reader's Diary #2229- Jarrad Saul: Bubble Gum

 Jarrad Saul's flash fiction "Bubble Gum" could just as easily be called a prose poem if we're in need of labels, as it takes a surreal look at a person falling for someone, described as being happily consumed by them. It's funny that the narrator states that he knows nothing of poetry when clearly this is not true for the author himself. 

It's quite an artistic, fun story.