Sunday, May 04, 2008
BLUE LAND C.D. COLLINS (Polyho Press 10 Howard St. Somerville, Mass http://www.polyho.com)
In Somerville, Mass, the home of C.D. Collins, she lives amidst the east coast literary establishment. The fiction that is produced in these parts is often first rate. It often deals with the young, the disaffected, the urbane and privileged. The characters often are jaded, over-educated, underemployed, and in short not reflective of the hinterlands south, west and even north of the Brahmin waters of the Charles River. But in the west of Somerville, Collins writes about the folks who habituated the bygone tobacco farms of rural Kentucky, and other gone-to- seed burgs. Like William Faulkner or Flannery O’Connor she writes with a gothic and highly emotional acumen that is at times striking. Collins who moved to Somerville from Kentucky some years ago, is an accomplished singer/songwriter as well as poet, who now has written a collection of short stories titled “Blue Land.” It examines the lives of mostly agrarian, poor white, folks in an unsentimental, authentic, and even spiritual style.
One of the most harrowing stories in this collection “Sin Verquenza” deals with a coke addict who works the line at a Delmonte Plant. The first paragraph of the story grabs the reader immediately in a chokehold, as the female protagonist describes the difference between a “Coke Head,” and a “Junkie":
“ A Coke Head and a Junkie are two different things. With Junk you hit up and just drop out. You feel very benevolent, but all you can do is sit there trembling and nauseated, your eyes slamming shut. With cocaine you are fascinated by your own mind, you feel smart and interesting and full of energy. Your life is suddenly ideal. Then the high is tainted by craving for more and you rev and rev till you climb the fucking walls. I do coke, but I am not in the gutter, you understand. I’m a worker. I save all my money past rent and food, for my Friday night date with the snowman.”
And here, in the same story, Collins exhibits her talent for the telling detail. In this passage she describes the evolving physical traits of a dysfunctional couple:
“ Same stiff dinners, same exact fights on Saturday night. My mother drew more and more inside, her head sinking into her shoulders like a turtle, her shoulders rolling forward. My father did the opposite, his chest popped out more and more, and his back began to sway, like a bad horse.”
In the story “Hiroshima” a young woman ponders the simple twist of fate that prevented one young man from courting her, and the consequence it may have had for the unborn child:
“ Would it have been different if Mr. Greenway had not been walking this way to the dairy, if the other young man’s step had not quickened as the image of her eyes surfaced in his mind? For it was not much time, just a moment, between the arrival of one and the arrival of the other, leaving with one, and leaving the other with the grandparents or an empty porch. Would the child that comes later have been the same soul destined to pass through this woman? Or is there a child whose soul still waits?”
In the best tradition of the small press, the Polyho Press has published a veteran writer who is hopefully on the cusp of the literary limelight.
* The Ibbetson Street Press will be releasing a poetry collection by Collins " Self Portrait With A Severed Head" this summer ( 2008)
Doug Holder/ Ibbetson Update/ May 2008/ Somerville