Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Thunderbird. Alexander Parsons. (sunnyoutside PO BOX 441429 Somerville, Mass. 02144) $10

Sunnyoutside, a small press based in Somerville, Mass. has released a chapbook of short fiction by NEA Literary Fellowship recipient Alexander Parsons: “Thunderbird.” This limited edition release is signed by the author, and features a hand-set, letter-press printed cover, hand-stitch binding and prints of six original woodcuts by Boston artist Adrian Rodriguez. The short story “Thunderbird,” appeared in the “Mid-American Review,” in 2003. The story is about a young man who loses his job, girlfriend, health and sanity in a bad car accident. Because of intolerably painful migraines as a result of the accident, the protagonist lets his life slowly slip away:

“It wasn’t that I stopped thinking about unemployment, eviction, destitution and the rest of respectability’s quick dissolution, but that these thought slowed so much that they stretched into long, unintelligible notes, like those deep, layered chants of Tibetan monks.”

As it happens our hapless hero hooks up with another lost soul “V.P.,” and begins a sojourn across the country by boxcar like a hobo of yore. Through V.P., a delusional and most likely a psychotic self-proclaimed visionary figure, he gains insight about his own condition and the prison of his mind. In this passage V.P. literally takes flight from the boxcar and his traveling partner:

“V.P. watched the passing lights intently. He turned to me and grasped my head between his hands as though he meant to crush my skull. “There’s still time to write another act,” he said, squeezing. He released me and I fell back in fear. I was sure he could have killed me. He turned and sprang from our perch. The headlamps of a passing truck pulled him into sharp focus for an instant, illuminating him with his arms outstretched, as if they were willing himself to fly.”

This is original, provocative writing from a very original small press.

Doug Holder/Ibbetson Update/ Somerville, Mass. Jan. 2006

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