My first Fictionaut Fave was “The Sometimes Serious Writer and His Ass” by Boudreau Freret. This also happens to be the first piece I read on Fictionaut. This also happens to be the piece that inspired me to write more actively, both due to its contents and its author.
I can relate to this piece. Although my job title is creative services writer, and I do write by assignment many times a week, reality has hit and my days are spent at a desk doing mind-numbing tasks. “Ass-numbing,” if you will. But my day job is not who I am. Even while at the desk, I can write what I want to write; what I need to write. (Heck, I’m writing this nugget at the desk right now!) Most importantly, this piece was worth the Fave because it recognizes what matters most here on earth; finding and sharing and appreciating “the kindness and generosity of others.”
“Camp K” is a story that will tickle your funny bone. It is a rollicking satire. It is an off the wall tale of a new widow’s visit to an upscale New Age camp where she can reconnect with life. I began laughing at the end of the second paragraph and didn’t stop.
That paragraph ends a brief recounting of the protagonist’s husband’s demise. The author writes: “She remembers the medics as a swarm of ants eating elderberry pie.” Would anybody but Meg Pokrass make it an elderberry pie?
In the next paragraph the narrator’s tale kicks into gear. She hates the other campers we discover, and no wonder. How would you expect a sane person to feel, stuck for a week in the midst of a crowd of posturing urbanites at a haven for the soul named Camp Kierkegaard?
It is “a place of sectarian forced fun” with a “bare ‘cabin’ look and feel.” And yet the expensive digs appear to be sharecropper shacks. Says the witty and disgusted widow, “They could be filmed in black and white with some rickety looking, skinny-model standing on the slat porch holding a broom.” Now there, my friends, is sarcasm. Two scoops!
And yet the story ends serenely enough. The prickly narrator adjust to and begins to take comfort from her mod surroundings. She holds the promise of healing “around her middle like a warm cat.” She can “sit alone or in a community with others and listen to her own, special moods – smoothing a worry stone and bottle of ketchup.”
This story will make you want to toss the brie and chardonnay and sink your teeth into a juicy burger with maybe a side of fries. Delicious.
This story captures with an immediate accuracy a small fragment of time. But what it really does is evoke a mood and atmosphere that is random and precise and sharp. Mel writes beautifully here – his language is economical and colorful with turns of phrases that make you go ‘wow’. The story itself is simple – the rendering is snappy and smooth.
What I enjoyed most was how the protagonist swings between his story and the observations he makes of the other couple. It’s done in a matter-of-fact manner without drawing attention to itself. The youthful point-of-view voice works very well – it’s not heavy or preachy. There are no flashy revelations or dramatic plot points; just a burst of action on a bus-trip. Yet, there are two stories rolled into one and they both work. The story left me satisfied and it stayed with me like a bright worm, the good kind. And it has a superb title.
Fictionaut Faves, a series in which Fictionaut members recommend stories on the site, is edited by Marcelle Heath, a fiction writer, freelance editor, and assistant editor for Luna Park. She lives in Portland, Oregon.