cover image Call It What You Want

Call It What You Want

Keith Lee Morris, Author . Tin House $14.95 (262p) ISBN 978-0-9825030-8-9

After The Dart League King , Morris returns to the short form with his refreshingly unpretentious if stylistically narrow second collection. In these 13 stories, protagonists turn the reader into a confidant and introduce plots that believably approximate the unique and fitful path of human thought. With the exception of “My Roommate Kevin Is Awesome,” which is written in teen jargon liberally sprinkled with “like,” Morris's prose is polished to transparency and proves surprisingly flexible in terms of tone. In “The Visitation,” an encounter with a charmingly unflappable thief grows into a darkly absurdist cautionary tale. “Guests” captures the aimless rhythms and restlessness of a young man working as a New Orleans parking valet. In the lengthy and affecting “Testimony,” teenager Robert Scott is the key prosecution witness in his friend's murder trial. Robert, until recently an addict, comes slowly to realize the larger dimensions of his actions and his testimony for the first time as he relives the crime in the courtroom and witness box. Though the stories can seem too formally similar, the pieces, individually, are marked by quiet authority and beautifully observed moments. (Apr.)