More than a month ago, I posted about Homeless Moon, a group blog of young, promising writers who had released their first publication and were giving it away for free. Or you could send them a $1 to cover postage to get a print copy.
At the time, I made some ridiculous promise to review the chapbook about a week affter I posted about it, and we can see how that turned out. Nonetheless, here is the promised review.
Overall, I thought the chapbook was strong; I enjoyed three out of the five stories quite a bit, the other two didn’t work for me. When the first story, “Construction-Paper Moon” by Michael J. DeLuca, used the moon as a motif, I was hoping that every story would follow suit, but that was not the case. I think that might have given the chapbook better coherence, given the reader something to follow from story to story instead of just being random stories about random things.
Alternately, if the first story had a moon--i.e., night--then the next story could be dawn, then mid-day, then evening, and back to night to close out the chapbook and come full circle. Since all of the authors are new, I felt it needed some sort of theme, or something to tie all the stories together into a nice package. However, since this was a giveaway, you can make a reasonable argument that there's no need for a theme.
I enjoyed DeLuca’s story; as a newish father, the back-and-forth between the main character (a high school student) and her father really hit me hard. I found the characters totally believeable, and although I had some trouble sussing out what exactly had happened prior to the story, it didn’t detract from what I felt was the main thing: the father and daughter relationship.
Next up was “Impracticable Dreams” by Jason Ridler. I felt there was too much telling in this story. Jeffrey Ford’s “The Way He Does It” does something similar, but shows instead of tells, and it works where I felt Ridler’s piece didn't come together cleanly in the end.
“Colonized” by Scott H. Andrews was next, and this piece didn’t work for me at all. He’s taking some recent news events, and turning them on their head. Normally I like this sort of story, but there wasn’t enough changed for it to make an impact for me.
I have the benefit of having read a few pieces from Erin Hoffman, so her “The Recurrence of Orpheus” felt familiar to me. (I am publishing a story from Erin in an upcoming issue of Electric Velocipede) I like this different take on the tale of Orpheus. The story feels a little light, and it’s almost flash fiction really, but I don’t think her conceit could support the weight of a lot more words. One of the things I like about short fiction is that an author can take chances with words and stop before things get too out of hand.
The closing story, “Welcome to Foreign Lands” by Justin Howe was my favorite of the collection. A man has a mishap on his vacation and ends in the center of the Earth instead of his intended destination. And it just gets stranger and more wonderful from there. I like that this story has a completely unique voice and a unique concept. Very original.
As I said, I think this is a strong chapbook overall. There were two stories that did not work for me, but for free, this is definitely worth trying out.
[photo from Flick user Rhys_Jones_photography; CC licensed for commercial use]