|View while reading chapbook: holidaymakers on the ice.|
So, "Chapbook, Volume 1", what´s in it? What´s my impression? Well, it´s a good mix of fact and fiction. All the authors are young. They are all men. They are all ambitious. They question society, and try to live as they teach. They are all good writers. What they write isn´t all to my taste, though. A few days after I finished it, three pieces stand out in my memory:
First, there is a short story by Joshua Fields Millburn, called "Echo Lake". He is clearly ambitious, and he is not making it easy for himself, choosing to write in second person narrative. This second person is a woman, she is an older woman, she is crazy (swimming outdoors in winter? how old is she, really?), she is sexy, she is rebellious (in a kind of juvenile way, but ok). It unclear who is talking, but this woman/you/I/the reader, is having an affair with this younger man, who is a writer, who seems distracted and a bit tortured, as writers should be. It ends, of course, the story and the relationship.
Second person is hard, and you should have a real good reason to use it. And I don´t think it works well here. But I admire the effort, and the guts. The only one I can remember who used this technique to good effect is Torgny Lindgren in his "The Way of a Serpent". A book that I should re-read, come to think of it. Anyway, Millburn´s story doesn´t really do it for me. He just tries too hard, I think, and I suspect he is a bit of a romantic. I have more from his pen, and I will return to him eventually.
Then, there is "Requirements and Expectations of Excellence" by Shawn Mihalik. Here we meet a young man returning to his home town, getting a job at a restaurant. I don´t know why it grabbed me. I liked the way Mihalik tells a story, I guess. We get a flashback of how his father stole his mother´s university scholarship money, and how she went from having a bright future to having no future at all, just a kid to raise on her own. It´s an excerpt from a coming novel, "Brand-Changing Day", and I might read it.
Last, there was Colin Wright´s "Xerxes", a sample from a speculative science fiction series called "Real Powers". This bit is about how a sect leader decides to, himself, infiltrate a group that is taking his disciples away from him. This sounds like a bunch of fun, actually. And it´s been a long while since I read any sci-fi. But I have a lot lined up, so I have added it to my wish list on amazon. We´ll see.
I enjoyed the "Chapbook, volume 1" - or most of it. But I wouldn´t have paid for it. If it had been a proper short story collection, fine. But excerpts? No. That´s a bit like paying for advertisments.