A .38 Special and a Broken Heart

Jonis Agee, Et, Author Coffee House Press $10.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-56689-032-8
This new volume in the Coffee-to-Go Short-Short Story series explores the tangled intersections of love and death. Most of the 29 selections are ``momentary stories'' that ``fling themselves at you and you don't have any choice but catch them.'' A few stories--such as ``Walking the Dog'' and ``Doors''--have minimal plot, becoming instead lyric statements about the painful coexistence of lovers. In other stories, Agee's female protagonists are scarred but spirited. The narrator of ``Size'' confesses to the local minister that she has ``a white trash soul'' and defies gossip to court a midget. The comic story ``Invisible'' reveals a motel maid's exquisite revenge (involving Super Glue and roach killer) against the traveling salesman who two-timed her. ``Dead Space'' is one of the murky and enigmatic stories in which Agee uses surreal images from dreams to capture the mundane reality of grief. Most of her tales are from the perspective of the wronged woman, but in ``Listen'' she anticipates and rebuts the objections of a pompous male critic. ``I told him that you have to be careful when you break horses that you don't break their spirit too.'' This spirit resounds in the splendid economy of Agee's deft characterization and sharp, visceral imagery. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
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