2 weeks ago
Friday, July 3, 2009
SmokeLong Quarterly—Issue Twenty-Five—"Rats" by Z.Z. Boone
I liked this story quite a lot at the outset. I liked how the narrator took off with her father to hunt rats on a Saturday night, something decidedly atypical of a teenage girl. I liked how she had "nerves as sharp as shark's teeth" and easily pulled the trigger, "pop...pop...pop, just like that."
I got off track a bit in the flash forward, especially since I didn't think I was "in scene" at all, but reading a general account of what usually happens on a Friday night in the life of this young woman. I thought perhaps that every week the father laments his divorce and the way he acted "weakly."
Then, we come back to "now," a particular scene where the rats are being hunted. In this version of "now" the narrator is jumping at her father's touch and seems to hold the gun like a fearful newbie. My initial assumptions about the narrator are gone and I suddenly feel adrift, wondering who this character really is.
So, I'm just perplexed. We move from speaking about an activity generally to a flash forward into what seems be a specific instance, back to a specific evening where the narrator has changed from a confident rat-hunter to a shaky adolescent. She now is learning how to handle violent power and her father's presence as an emasculated figure.
I hate to say it, but this piece simply unraveled for me. The more I asked of it, the less it gave. The narrator goes through a change, but it seems to be a regression. Regression is interesting, but I don't know if I have enough to really see how or why she regressed.
Again, I think this piece has a lot going for it. Interesting characters, neat situation, great writing. As the interviewer in the companion article, Smoking With ZZ Boone, says, it is a multi-layered piece. However, like a many-tiered cake, this piece needs a solid support to maintain its structure.
I give this flash a lone, shiny sparkler.