A bit of a new one here today with Farrago's Wainscot, a place putting out "literary weird" fiction and poetry. And a nice lobster on the front page. I'm all about lobsters! Apparently the publication was active until 2009 and then disappeared for a while and is now back! So yeah, onwards to the reviews!
"Everybody Has a Twin Except for Me" by Toiya Kristen Finley (3715 words)
Literary weird is probably a good way to describe this story, in which CF flees through what might be parallel dimensions from two predatory men bent on killing him. The story is a strange one, and not exactly linear. Through the jumble of scenes it's revealed that CF is kind-of related to the men pursuing him, that they're from his past, a past where he failed to do something and now can't escape. I wonder some how literal it's supposed to be, or if perhaps he's running from the men is more figurative, a running from his past, running from confronting what needs to be confronted. He's out looking for himself, and as long as he keeps running that's exactly what he can't find. It's an interesting piece, though a little muddy for my tastes. Still, it's full of some excellent imagery and language.
"Sinfonia 22" by Forrest Aguirre (1885 words)
Another strange beast, this one told as a collection of quotations from various sources surrounding the death of composer Allesandro Livetti. There is certainly the air of a detailed report to this story, like it could all have happened like this, like this is all absolutely true. Kind of like found-text stories, this one is rather a compiled text story that reveals a number of curiosities concerning the murder. It's a little tricky to get at first, but it does have a nice enough flow to it, and it set up to the ending, to the murder itself, quite well. Musical and strange, it works for what it seems to set out to do, and is entertaining and comical throughout. Some sections obviously will hit better than others, but it all weaves together to form a whole, one that is worth a look.
"Of Homes Gone" by Jason Heller (2013 words)
Still on the theme of weird shit, this story is about an enforcer of the Lack of Laws going out into a city where entering buildings is taboo and perhaps deadly. It's not entirely clear if the fear of the buildings is from buildings collapsing during catastrophes or if there is something more magical about them, but the agent goes out to follow a rumor that someone went inside. What they find is, well, strange, a sort of religious experience, and it changes them. Changes them enough that they start trying to break down the walls of meaning between thing. Starting with their face. Disturbing and creepy, the whole thing is once more a little opaque to me but interesting to read at least.
"Time is a Twisting Snake" by Richard Bowes (2999 words)
Definitely the most coherent and powerful of the stories in this issue, it follows an old New Yorker in a future where people can live on in the bodies of the young. At first this notion disturbs him, and he tries to take his age in stride, but as he goes about his life and sees the benefits to not aging, he is seduced. He's lived through so much, and getting a chance to be young again sounds like it would be too tempting to resist. Really, though, he seems to doubt what he's done, doubts that it should be done. For while he likes his new body, there is a sense that he has betrayed something fundamental about himself, to say nothing about what he's done to the person whose body he's taken over. Weird but rich with science fiction and a strong drive, this story is one that should definitely be checked out.
"Worlds In Collision" by Bryan D. Dietrich
This poem is pretty much exactly like the name implies. One planet smacks into another, and basically they both die. It's about the moments before the impact, the moments when the new world looms up like a moon and then everyone realizes what's about to happen. It's about not being able to do much. Stark and desperate, it's a compact poem, full of some neat phrasing and the feel of the atmosphere shredding. This poem hits, and it hits hard, summing up all the lonely despair that comes along with a planet's annihilation.
"Perennial Movement" by Glenn Shaheen
A poem with some form to it, this one moves in a circle, or in branching paths, or any way, really. I read it first clock-wise, then counter, then as a right side and a left. It really can be enjoyed in a number of ways, which is part of the fun and meaning, to find the different meanings that come with the different ways of reading. In most ways it seems to be about death and gravity and all those fun kinds of things. Definitely suited for multiple readings. A fun exercise, if rather dark.
"Whispering Into the Ear Of The Statue Of Your Choice What You Really Think About Things Is Almost Like Talking To Someone" by John Gallaher
This is something of a dense poem, using long lines that give it a sense that it, like the statues, is a bit set in stone, that it is solid, not vague or ephemeral. Of course, this works too because the statues in the poem are solid and allow the narrator to throw a bit of themselves into giving the statues voice. It's a neat poem, with some ideas that I want to call cute, like the voice the narrator uses to give the statues words. I think there's something under the lighter ideas of the poem, though, something about how we are all sort of like that, how we all sort of make ourselves into statues to each other. The last lines of the poem do a great job of capturing that idea, and I like the overall effect. Hurrah!
"Orbital" by Adrienne J. Odasso
And to completely turn things around from the last poem, this one is lithe and airy, very short lines and breaks and just a lot of space in there. Space that the words themselves seem to evoke, asking the reader to fill and make sense of. It has some really nice lines and a good sense that something is happening, that two people are burning, or at least one is burning, but the fire brings them together while it seems to resolve them, to destroy them. It's a short poem, but one that reaches up with the flames, one that lingers like an echo. It's lovely and definitely worth a few reads!