Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Gargoyles and Aliens

What everyone's been waiting for (ha!); my "in-depth" review of Gargoyle 48. The issue overall is a solid one. The reason I continue to like Gargoyle so much is that despite, or maybe because of, the sheer variety of content and styles editors Peabody and Ebersol continue to pull together some really great work.

Michael Hemmingson offered up a fun and surprisingly heartfelt tale about a father whose own daughter brings to life all the literary dreams he once held for himself. Although I read it previously in his most recent collection, Doug Rice’s pseudo-eulogy to Kathy Acker entitled "In Memoriam To Identity" still hits all the right spots in that oddly cerebral-twisting, experimental manner that Rice is so good at.

Carolyn Osborne’s "Oppositions" and Nahid Ranhlin’s "Chance Meetings" both feature American women who fall in love with men from other cultures and focus on how the conflict of ideas and world views change their lives. Both also manage to slip in some political content in a nice under-the-radar kind of fashion. Two fun metafiction pieces, Lynda Schor’s "Corrections" and Sally Drumm’s "Alphabet Story, manage the tough balancing act of experimental form with some nice little epiphany moments.

The over the top, best piece for me (aside from Drumm’s, which I blogged about earlier) is "The Crime Museum" by Suzanne Feldman, who’s won some pretty big SF awards writing under the very cool name of Severna Park. This particular story is set in the far future, and the narrator is a trainee for an agency that goes into the past to kill people who will cause historical atrocities. Yes, I know it’s an old idea. Nearly every history class has had the discussion "If you could go back in time and kill Hitler prior to the Holocaust, would you?" But Feldman handles things well, and raises a lot of big questions about guilt, innocence and who really causes all those horrible time-markers in history.

The one story I have to stand up and scream at is James F. Thompson’s "Butterfly BBQ Sauce". The descriptions are very vivid and compelling, I love the voice of the piece but I have a couple quibbles. Even though I heard the author read the beginning at the launch party, I still didn’t get the main joke (that the narrator is a CPR Practice dummy) until halfway through the piece. That the dummy is called by two different names interchangeably only added to my confusion. The story hints at some interesting aspects of sexual roles, but I felt it pulled back before it really delved much into that territory. I’m complaining about this one so much because I think it could have been an amazing story with another editorial pass, but as it is its just ok.

I’ve decided I need something simple-minded to read for a break, so I’m moving on to a Whitley Strieber book. Nice, trashy alien abduction stuff that we’re supposed to take as fact.

Well I’m off to do some more holiday shopping. Hope everyone’s handling all the December stress.


1 comment:

LadyLitBlitzin said...

Thanks for the review! I need to get my hands on that issue, seriously... that'll be on the list but of course priorities have shifted decidedly away from my own selfish self-interest with the holidays here. ;)

Yeah, with all this reading and blogging, I've definitely found there are times it's good to take it down a notch and just read something fun. Enjoy!