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Showing posts from July, 2014

Playboy Fiction Review: "Extreme (Part II)" by Don Winslow

So this is Part II of III in the exciting, thrilling, jaw-clenching, white-knuckle-inducing short story "Extreme," by best-selling pot-boiler author, and screenwriter, Don Winslow. As evidenced by the exciting illustration below, it's pretty exciting...

Pretty sure I'm one of about a dozen people in the entire Playboy-reading world that has bothered to keep up with this little short fiction mini-series, and--I'm abundantly sure and would be willing to bet money on it--that I'm the only person blogging about it, in stages. Not that it's patently "bad" in any way (it does get pretty exciting at one point) it's just that there are myriad other attractions in Playboy and it's not like Winslow is breaking any new ground here that desperately beckons to be explored. In fact, it feels like the story is something that belongs in a 1999 issue of Maxim.

The Plot: A group of world-class extreme sports athletes decides to hijack the yacht of a Russia…

What I'm Reading: July 28th, 2014

After drifting-about for a few weeks without a good book, I suddenly find myself in the middle of three (3) super-entertaining reads:

1.) Kentucky Straight, by Chris Offutt: A direct result of my New Yorker & Playboy fiction reviewing. Learned about this author from a Playboy short he wrote a few months ago. This is Offutt's first published book of short stories. His subject matter: the life and legends of the people of his native land of rural Appalachian Kentucky. His prose is simple and hard, and occasionally difficult to decipher, but he paints a vivid and enthralling picture of life beyond the reaches of the municipal water system, beyond the phone lines, where people still hunt, fish, and farm to feed their families and resist the call to change and modernity at every turn. If I wasn't from West Virginia, myself (albeit, a developed part of the state), I wouldn't believe places like this still existed. Granted, the book was published in 1992 and therefore Offutt …

New Yorker Fiction Review: "Madame Lazarus" by Maile Meloy

Issue: June 23, 2014

Story: "Madame Lazarus"

Author: Maile Meloy

My Two Cents: So apparently Maile Meloy is the sister of The Decemberists' frontman, which makes me like her about 0.0237 times less than I did before. Which is to say, I don't really care about that particular piece of information other than for use as party chit-chat. And that is NOT because I don't like The Decemberists. I don't. It's just that it reminds me of the existence of this stratum of Ivy League educated Artistic Uber-Elite which I shan't ever inhabit; a higher and therefore better plane of existence, in which everyone is holding hands at the Great Feast, looking down upon us all with smug dismay.

Okay, okay, so it's not as bad as all that. Sometimes my imagination gets away from me. Besides, I genuinely don't have any wish to inhabit said stratum and, who knows, probably couldn't get in even if I wanted to. Those are not "my people" and never will be. Give…

New Yorker "Fiction Issue" Review

The New Yorker Fiction Issue Strikes Again...

Issue Date: June 9 & 16, 2014

Every time the New Yorker Fiction Issue comes out (far too often) I feel like a one-armed busboy working the Friday lunch shift at an All-You-Can-Eat Chinese buffet. I can barely keep up with the regular weekly NYer short stories (if you've noticed I run a steady 4-6 weeks behind) and then they come out with an ENTIRE ISSUE filled with nothing but fiction??? Aye Caramba. It's like the editors of the NYer are specifically trying to torture and delight me at the same time. 
Since I'm so pitifully far behind and since there are so many stories in the Fiction Issue, I've decided to dole out a couple quick capsule reviews of what I thought were the note-worthy offerings...
Karen Russell's "The Bad Graft" -- Two Magically-Realistic Thumbs Up. This tale of two young lovers bewitched and captivated by the Mojave Desert made me positively squirm in my seat at times but kept my eyeballs ri…