cover image Life Science and Other Stories

Life Science and Other Stories

Keith Taylor, Author Hanging Loose Press $12 (72p) ISBN 978-1-882413-14-0

In his brief first collection, bookseller Taylor delights readers with tight flashes of insight that only occasionally work up to an actual narrative. Any story that runs onto a third page is a long one here. In one creepy episode, a young boy drawing in his basement cannot locate ``The Black Crayon,'' then finds it in plain sight. In ``Beautiful Cause,'' the narrator is in Italy to speak at a conference on Ezra Pound; as he prepares to follow an admired critic to the podium he realizes that the critic is praising Pound's politics and working the crowd up into a chanting fervor (``BEL-la CAU-sa; BEL-la CAU-sa''). ``Bookseller'' is a rhythmic paean to books as objects-not literature-that ends suddenly and antipoetically, while in ``WCTU'' (Women's Christian Temperance Union), children recite melancholy poems about the evils of alcohol: ``We knew the winner would be the one who could make Auntie Edna Eby weep.'' Five ``Bear Stories'' build on one another, from the secondhand tale of a man who covers his daughter's hands with honey to lure a bear into a photograph, to the narrator's attempt to shoot one. A few pieces are weak, but they pass so quickly that they are hardly noticeable. The stories are divided into four sections loosely linked by theme, but the appeal here is Taylor's ability to cast a line and reel the reader in with just a few sentences, then do it again and again. (July)