Thursday, July 15, 2010
July 15, 2010 03:57am
The prose pieces collected in Alison Bundy's Duncecap are a bit difficult to generalize about because of the various genres and styles employed. Some are brief character sketches or vignettes reminiscent of the feuilletons of Robert Walser (a point made to me by Evelyn Hampton) while others are flash or microfictions which frequently display the elusiveness of prose poems. Some, on the other hand, are full length short stories which tend toward the style of the traditional fable. The most interesting and effective pieces for me were the "Walserian" vignettes and the flash fiction pieces which are some of the best examples of their kind with engaging wit and sly conceptual disjunctions. The longer works, while entertaining and absorbing, struck me as less distinctively original creations. All in all, a very stimulating read.
Joanna Ruocco's Man's Companions initially (the first 5 or 6 stories) had me very excited by the subtly intelligent humor and the perfectly judged lapidary quality of these mostly flash sized fiction works. There are quite a few in the first third of the book that are truly outstanding (e.g., "Canary", "Mice" and "Lemmings"). Unevenness begins to affect the later pieces though one fascinatingly quirky and original longer story ("White Buffalo") also comes along toward the end. I'm quite curious about Ruocco's novella The Mothering Coven after seeing what she's capable of in this book.