Sunday, September 29, 2013

I Want To Show You More by Jamie Quatro

Short stories about a devout Southern mom conflicted about adultery

This collection was uneven but when the stories were good they were very good – about sex and sin and God. Honest and raw and powerful. With an entertaining degree of quirk. The lesser stories overrelied on cancer or other unfair harsh life interruptions – a kind of disaster porn. (Don’t let the circumstances be the story.) For the most part, the settings are on a mountaintop city bordering Georgia and Tennessee. Lookout Mountain. The chronicled obsessions are running, religion and phone sex.

My favorites were the linked short-shorts, Imperfections, You Look Like Jesus, and Relatives of God. There's a freedom in the prose, a humor and a ruefulness that is quite evocative. I also liked Demolition, about a town remaking the church and its sexual mores. Like Demolition, the collection includes a number of “surreal” stories, which also work well, although I preferred the emotional vulnerability of the adultery stories. Decomposition combines both - a more experimental thought piece on adultery. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Pavement – a surreal meditation on running and a race. You know, like life. 1.7 to Tennessee, felt a little stagey to me, about an old lady mad at GW Bush.  My enthusiasm waned as the book went on.

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