"As he's walking away I know he's still thinking about trains, wondering what a really big train crash would look like, the first car striking something twisted on the tracks and dragging the following cars off the rails, tumbling over on their sides with a world-stopping screech." location 2227
Everybody loves a good train wreck, though personally I vote for the roller coaster because I can get my fill of other people's misfortunes, the Schadenfreude, bright bloody and visceral. But wait, is this what the collection is about? No but there are a few train wrecks in it, a few boundaries pushed. This is not a light festive read, the Sandcastle? Well I am betting there is a foot print smack dab in the middle of it.
I read a couple of the stories out loud to my fiance, one of which had him so excited we ended up getting into a two hour discussion on this particular form of story telling. After finishing Mother of Twins
, he immediately said, "Read the next one, I am really enjoying this, it reminds me of Flannery O'Connor's writing!" This is the third story in the collection and starts off with a creepy Stepford Wives feel. As with all the other stories in this book, the door is opened a bit more as it progresses, the jaws of life prying apart the wrecked side of the last car and contents revealed. In the end the grotesqueness of the human spirit is revealed in a the form that is also a desperate beauty, a justifiable need. Her weakness exposed like a pile of intestines, we cannot turn away and yet we want too, we can't. Again, train wreck!
But train wrecks are not always ugly, bloody and a mess. Sometimes you are riding a train when it happens, the cars ahead start to brake before smashing into a wall and jostle you a bit. Instead of having your leg ripped of you fall into the lap of the man or woman in the bench in front of you. You know the one, the sunlight hitting their glasses, preventing you seeing their eyes? The beauty seems real and you are like, wow how lucky I am, then the blinds are dropped and as beautiful as they are ... there is something different and disturbing. Beauty you cannot look away from, as dangerous as it maybe, drawing you into its clutches. The story Poseidon Eyes
is a little like this. Just look beyond the fins and see what I mean when you read it.
If I were to pick a favorite, I would be hard pressed. I can't. Each one is its own train wreck, in fact there are a few roller coaster accidents, which as I said are my favorite. When the Ship Sinks
probably is the one that gave me the most pause and qualifies as a roller coaster accident. The parallels and hidden metaphors are so lovely, disturbing and addictive I just did not want it to end, but FEMA was able to clear the tracks and I had to move along.Sandcastle and Other Stories
pushes the boundaries making you think. It is not cotton candy, a BLT or even a steak. It is complex Seafood Paella with muscles, spicy chirizo, clams, chicken, shrimp, sofrito, short ribs and more. Blended perfectly and placed over rice you dig in, experiencing joy, sweat breaking out from the spice as you gulp water and shovel more into your mouth unable to stop because of an evocation of pleasure and pain you received knowing the next time you get a chance to eat it, you will with even more splendor and abandonment!
(NOTE - I gave this collection to one of the professors at the University and he recently wrote me saying this book will probably be used as part of his lecture series on the world of self publishing he is doing to help dispel the stigma attached.)