Lately I’ve been absent from the world of Fictionaut, consumed by a return to the classroom and the many issues such a change implies. Still, there are favorites, writers I seek out here for their brilliance; Chris Okum, Michael Gillan Maxwell, Steve Gowin, and Sheldon Lee Compton. However, when Michelle Elvy asked me to contribute to the Editor’s Eye, I decided to go in search of strangers, as I feel estranged from the world of Fictionaut these days, and the old familiar faces are not so familiar after all. So here then are my diamonds in the rough:
This is a short, beautifully wrought piece of writing. I found myself drawn in by the strength of the writing, the way each word builds on the previous word. When I read, “I learned a tourniquet is a compression tool, a vice for flesh” I knew this was a writer I wanted to discover and share with people.
Powerful scene that takes me right into the action. I found the first line to be a killer: “He told me he once burned a church. I particularly liked how once the first line dissolves on the tongue like a communion wafer, the whole world of the narrator opens up and the whole thing is like watching a log burn in the grate on a cold night—satisfying, engaging, wonderful.
Longer than the usual Fictionaut offering, this one brings a world to my attention that I want to read more of, become immersed in, discover what the hell happens next. The writing is strong, the dialog sharp, the narrative flow nice and snappy, and the last line is a humdinger: “…she dissolved like a snowflake on a tongue.”
Maybe it’s because I’m brooding on life, death, aging, and my own mother is growing old, but there’s a weigh, a poignancy, an absence though of sentimentality, in this work-in-progress. The writing is strong, the voice assured, the subject matter no laughing one, and the image of an old woman sipping tomato soup through a straw is enough to break one’s heart. A worthy read.
A poem, because I don’t do poetry at all well. I love the shape and form of this one. The images are fresh, the language simple, and there are avocado trees within! No, really, this is a gem, a real beauty of a poem. The way the weight falls on the final trio of images—“hive, landscape, bodies,” is quite wonderful.
James Claffey hails from County Westmeath, Ireland, and lives on an avocado ranch in Carpinteria, CA, with his wife, the writer and artist, Maureen Foley, their daughter, Maisie, and Australian cattle-dog, Rua. He is the author of the book, Blood a Cold Blue, and his website is at www.jamesclaffey.com.