cover image Lift Your Right Arm

Lift Your Right Arm

Peter Cherches. Pelekinesis, $10 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-938349-02-7

One of the innovators of the short short story, Cherches (Condensed Book) returns with a collection whose pieces linger in the void somewhere between poetry and prose. Consisting of five sequences of loosely connected minimalist stories%E2%80%94few of which go on for longer than a page%E2%80%94these "novellas", though distinct, keep returning to certain overarching themes: the reality of death, the difficulty of expressing subjective perspective, and the failures of language. In "Mr. Deadman", a corpse rises from the grave and gives new meaning to the word "afterlife". The couple in "Dirty Windows" repeatedly struggles to unify their individual perspectives of the world into a single coherent reality. Two of the other novellas are categorized as "bagatelles", and true to their name resemble musical trifles, experiments in language that carry little dramatic weight. Throughout Cherches demonstrates a brilliant gift for wordplay, though the more fulfilling novellas feature more developed characters: Mr. Deadman, the perpetual corpse, proves to be of greater interest than the vaudevillian dialogues of One, Two, and Three, the featureless interlocutors who star in one of the bagatelles. Sadly, the collection never manages to overcome this unevenness, resulting in a brisk, entertaining, but insubstantial read. (Mar.)