Carbine: Stories

Greg Mulcahy, Author Univ. of Massachusetts 22.95 (196p) ISBN 978-1-55849-818-1
In these 41 brief, surprising stories, Mulcahy (Constellation) mines everyman’s deep sense of failure and spiritual alienation. “Hat” sets out a typical conflict: a middle-aged office worker, trapped in an interminable meeting with a bland “facilitator,” daydreams about starting over with his disgruntled spouse. In “Graceland,” a man reflects on a corny tourist photo of him and his wife snapped at the Elvis mecca and imagines it has captured the two stuck in a moment both past and future—exposing a culture “eternally recycled” and possessing “varieties of chaos to come.” In the longest story, “Architecture of the French Novel,” a doleful character ruminates on memories of a now dead acquaintance, Jules, and his wife, Penelope, striking a dark and obsessive chord. Above all, Mulcahy’s characters desire to assume some relevance, like Bill in “Account,” who wants to cease being invisible (“Hey, you’re that guy,” a stranger remarks to him, shocking him), move beyond failures of the past, and find purpose. Mulcahy packs a surprising amount of power into each of these understated and beautifully wrought pieces. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/26/2010
Release date: 04/01/2010
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