Saturday, April 30, 2011

ACORN'S CARD: a review


ACORN'S CARD is a novella and two accompanying short stories. In the title novella an AWOL soldier returns to the downstairs after thirty-three years of hiding in his mother’s attic to find the old woman dead. But what should he do with her body? He can’t just call an undertaker—he is supposed to have died years ago. And how will he provide for himself, as his mother has left little money in the house? By chance a pre-approved credit card application arrives in the mail. John Acorn fills it out and a card is issued to him. Now he can buy whatever he wants, with no thought of how he will pay when the statement comes. He decides to buy a used hearse and drive his mother to the cemetery and bury her. But first John will take his mother on a ride, during which he finds the world considerably changed from what he remembered it to be. Meanwhile, the hearse has a plan of its own. You will be surprised by the ending of this strange and fascinating story.

In the first of the short stories an immigrant plumber bribes a policeman into not giving him a traffic ticket with a loaf of bread; while in the other a plastic garbage bag flies around the sky looking for a new beginning.

Poleskie’s plots are brilliantly conceived and original. He is a skillful writer with a brilliant sense of the language, at times probing, yet glorious and magical, much in the manner of Bruno Schulz. If you prefer your reading a bit out of the ordinary, and you still understand what a metaphor is, Acorn’s Card is an excellent choice.

Highly Recommended

Acorn’s Card

Onager Editions, 2011, ISBN 978 -1- 60047 – 558 – 0

Paperback, 125 pages, $12.00 USD

Monday, April 4, 2011

HAYWIRE: a review

Having grown up in northeastern Pennsylvania, in a time before "bullying" had become a hot topic for TV talk show hosts, I can relate to the plight of the narrator of Thaddeus Rutkowski's latest novel HAYWIRE. Back then to be different: shorter, smarter, reads books, makes art, and doesn't play sports, was a good reason to be beaten up, or have your head split with a rock. Rutkowski's hero has all of the above, plus he is biracial The boy grows up, despite a repressive father, and gets on with his life in this witty and sometimes sad novel.

Written in a deadpan manner, the reader is pulled along at a fast pace. Alison Lurie has called Rutkowski, "one of the most original writers in America today. Author Ned Vizzini says: "HAYWIRE aims high and succeeds brilliantly. Fine writing and hilarity were to be expected -- what surprises is the underlying message of hope in a unforgiving world."

At times giddy and slightly surrealistic, HAYWIRE is highly moralistic, providing us with a look at the recent past, while posing questions about the future. This can clearly be seen in the books last paragraph: On my way up the mountain, I find that the slope is not only steep, it's vertical. There's a steel ladder I can hold on to, but even when I'm holding on, I'm afraid of falling. I look for a place to rest, a flat area where I can get off the ladder. But I don't see any ledges wide enough to stand on. Moving sideways would lead to empty air. So I keep climbing.

Highly Recommended
~Sidney Grayling

HAYWIRE Thaddeus Rutkowski Starcherone Books, Buffalo, NY, ISBN 978-0-9842133-1-3 298 pages, USD $18.00