Sunday, September 24, 2017

Image result for lock and load bettyjoyce

Lock and Load, ed by Deirdra McAfee and BettyJoyce Nash

All three women had been married, rough marriages full of fighting and black eyes and sobbing imprecations, all of them knew the trouble that came with drinking men and hair-trigger tempers.  from "A Lonely Coast" by Annie Proulx

OK, I am cheating a little on this one - I didn't have to read all the stories because I wrote one of them.  This is an anthology of gun-related fiction designed to spark thinking about the second amendment and our gun culture.  There is a wide range of material here and a wide range of quality, though it is generally a range from good to excellent.  I probably should not have been surprised at how rural the settings tended to be - that is where the guns are, after all.   But I was surprised to find that I was surprised that my story was one of the few that was urban, and one of the few that involved crime.

Proulx story does a masterful job of creating a Wyoming world awash in liquor and anger and guns, and you feel the tension toward disaster building.  The ending still surprises, though in part because it generally seems to come from nowhere.  My favorite story was "Family Reunion" by Bonnie Jo Campbell because the narrator's voice is so compelling and the final brutality creates a poetic justice I have not encountered before.  One more gem I would mention is Nicole Louise Reid's "Pearl in a Pocket."  Again there is a narrative voice you have to follow and again you are lead in surprising directions.

I was impressed by how the stories kept surprising me - given that you know the gun will appear and that you are fairly certain it will go off - and how much I enjoyed the reading.

I felt I was in good company all around.

No comments: