Monday, April 27, 2009

Reader's Diary #484- Rhonda Dyke: Texas Low

Looking for a new short story this week, I went to The Danforth Review. They have the good sense to keep up with the times by publishing their issues online. Though I'm none to keen on advertising and glad to see none there, I wonder how they'll make money?

The most recent issue offered four stories so I picked based on author info. Rhonda Dyke is a former Newfoundlander, like myself, and I'm patriotic like that. Plus "Texas Low" is her first published fiction, so I figure this must have been a big deal for her.

For the most part, I enjoyed it. It took me quite aback though. The family described (be fair warned) is like the Osbournes without the class. At first I thought it was overdone. While it may be, there's a chance it isn't. The Jerry Springer audience-- they're for real, aren't they? I really don't know. I'm so accustomed to reading about people in a higher social class than me, that make more money, that have better etiquette, and wear more expensive clothes, that I'd begun to think I was near the bottom. Dyke's story provides some relief that I've still got a few rungs below me yet. For more than my self esteem, I think we need to see more of such people represented in literature.

Back to the Osbournes. When that show first aired, many defended them by saying their way of life may not be for everyone, but it seems to work for them. If "working for them" means a family pass to the nearest rehab centre, then yes, it works for them. Amy, the protagonist in Dyke's story, seems to also wrestle with perspective in terms of whether or not her family works.

It's not an overly complicated plot and could have used a bit more development, but the characters are compelling enough to keep it afloat.

One major beef was with the shoddy editting. Three times I counted "too" mispelled as "to." For a story of this length, published by a literary journal with the reputation of the Danforth Review, this is unacceptable. I'd begun to think it was stylistic, that maybe Dyke was making some point about Amy's level of education, but near the end I noticed that it was spelled correctly. It makes Dyke's writing look bad when I believe the editors should have caught it.

(Do have a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave your link below.)


Allison said...

"Osbournes without the class." Wasn't aware they had class. ;)

John Mutford said...

Allison: Bingo.

JoAnn said...

Mixing up 'too' and 'to' is a pet peeve of mine...that would have driven me crazy! Thanks for the link to The Danforth Review. I'm going to take a look.