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Midwife in the Tire Swing
Lucian Hobart, known as Lucy, age 92, tends sixteen mousetraps—they hang on strings from the handgrips of a high-tech walker his grandson’s shop class built for him. Sarah Drye, an estranged daughter, has decided it is high time her father died; she will move in to help: “I am a Death-Doula, a midwife of sorts. I help you to die. The Death-Doula assembles meaningful things—art, music, poetry—from your life. You help her. You decorate, hand paint your coffin. Cardboard is preferred, biodegradable.”
In the house Cat, Lucy’s wife, smiles—she has nowhere to go, really. Misty twilight murmurings from the always-on bedroom television tell her of baseball and Olympic rowing, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. It is enough. Caught between despair and boredom, she opts for joy.
Lucy’s pursuit of the kernel of his being takes him to Brooklyn barrios, 18th century Devonshire, New York City for the assassination of a corrupted judge, to Midlothian, Ohio and his mislaid love, and to the Super Stud Ranch, an all-male brothel in Reno, where Ian Emory Hobart, a grandson, is the featured gigolo.
— Midwife in the Tire Swing
Rob demonstrates a total mastery of the craft in this volume. I see it is subtitled: it’s about time. Willapaq comes alive, much as Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County does, to occupy the breadth and depth of mind space – and believably connect down the real route 1 to Brooklyn, and beyond to Toledo and even California. In its pages a plethora of characters are drawn with compassionate indulgence. Runyonesque as they are, you can’t help caring about these folk be they cantankerous youngsters, professional grifters or just extras ala R. Crumb.
— Martin Langeland, dumluks.com
Lechery, debauchery, total annihilation—the usual stuff as two prime movers contend for power. Not power to do anything in particular—threaten, coerce, destroy: illuminate a city, tighten the skeins of a siege engine, or wind up the bowels of a child’s clockwork toy—just power to have around. Just in case. Just the familiar, reassuring bulge of potential, there to quiet unease was not much to ask. But who to ask?
— The Return of the Orange Virgin from Platterland
A woman popped out of thin air beside me. She was swinging a serious looking cavalry saber; She gave me the once-over and attacked. I ducked. Her pale gray eyes grew huge. “Oh, terribly sorry, old chap. I thought you were someone else,” she said. “Are you still alive?” I said yes. “I say, good fun, what?” she remarked. A bullet zinged past and we dived under the desk.
— Mark Twain in Milan from Platterland
Giant bumblebees prowl thick wisteria; vines knot to frame a lovers’ bower. Before the foreground, hogging the floor, lies a toppled faun, his lips curled in a sneer of passion. At his side is a sawed-off fluted plaster column with a shattered capital nearby suggesting old ruins. I could not bear to throw the stuff out. Some day someone would want to be photographed with a leering, panting satyr.
— The Tirewoman Gabriel from Platterland
Lost in Willipaq
Our mother was called to claim her husband’s bodiless head. She picked out a handsome stone of speckled gray Vermont granite for the resting place of what was left of her late husband. “Lost in Willipaq,” read the stone. Willipaq was the name of the small Maine town where David, our father, died. There was a mix-up and our father’s body had been cremated by mistake. They still had the head however, neatly tagged and in a box.
— Klein, the Clone from Lost in Willipaq
“Arrgh! See me neck, lad?” The mark of the hangman was stamped on Theophrastus Bigelow’s throat. “They give me a good twist, they did.” Bigelow succumbed to gales of laughter. “I didn’t die from the drop; I swung and strangled, me laddy-buck. Whadda ye think o’ that?” The Pirate’s great black beard, curly and perfumed, he wore tucked into the waistband of a deep-cuffed, red velvet coat. Whatever young Randy thought did not matter to the pirate. He seemed to think Randy was expecting him.
“I think it’s rather nice that you didn’t die all at once,” Randy said.
— The Runaway Bungalow from Lost in Willipaq
Insects are nothing new to horror fiction, but Hunter elevates this tale above the standard fare with engaging characters, keen POV shifts, and a quirkiness of style that makes the outcome most satisfying. While the dénouement was inevitable, it left me with a devious grin on my face. Impressive.
— Marshall Payne on Song of the Rice Barge Coolie
I loved “Facelift” and hope I haven’t lost it to another market by taking too long to get it. It’s like “Ghost World”, “Only You Can Save The Universe”, and “Welcome to the Dollhouse” mixed together. Teen angst, comics / sf geekdom, and Pratchett / Holt / Fforde lunacy in one package.
— Robert Moriyama, Aphelion Short Story Editor
I kept getting drawn back into the manuscript (The Year They Invented Frozen Lemonade). I picked back and forth through it for approximately six hours. It ’works’ like a rather interesting puzzle. While I’m not sure that I solved said puzzle, I also suspect that it may not necessarily need to be solved to be appreciated (and this may be part of the story’s strong appeal to me.)
— Michael R. Colangelo, Fiction Editor, The Harrow
has big trouble. Her omelet pan has run off to Australia. “Oh... brollyflogger,” says Betty. “Language, Betty. Language,” says Mrs. Kunkle, Betty’s mom. Magnetic Betty, an eight-year-old Brownie Scout, marshals the Browntown Ocelots to save the world, Santa Claus, and Christmas as we know it, assisted by Walt and Madge, her bewildered parents, along with Dolby Jenks, World’s Number One Champion Detective, and P. I. Kunkle, the famous composer who leads the Browntown Pep Band. (with 11 original illustrations by Maine artist Lee Suta)
Magnetic Betty is, indeed, a little gem... it’s got that Avram Davidson shuffle goin’ on. The highlight this issue, for me, is Magnetic Betty. Terrific story.
— Comments from the Nautilus Engine Forum
Rob Hunter has done it again! He has added a highly polished small industrial diamond to the crown wrought by Carroll, Sendak, Thurber, and a few others. Too few others for our own good. With the omelette pan I join in giving this book a full “zoop!”
— Martin Langeland, writing on Dum Luk’s
The Quilter Who Went to Hell
Libby Pease is my favorite person out of all of Willipaq County—an evocation of the usually broke and always hopeful denizens of, perhaps, Washington County, Maine—living free and wild in their very own Yoknapatawpha.
An old maid, a dead Indian who is also a spirit-priest, eyeballs in a teacup, and ghosts of the long-gone can be found in “Chimaera Constant” by Rob Hunter. Hunter fulfills the “weird” expectation with these. Readers are kept groping at the edges, searching for elusive meaning in a shifting landscape of memories and present events until it’s hard to tell which is real and which is memory. It is a pleasant confusion, and I didn’t really want to be unconfused. Hunter mesmerizes by his word choice, using combinations that hide as well as reveal. It’s an aesthetic that is essential to stories like these, where understanding isn’t all that important.
— Rochita Loenen-Ruiz in the Fix November, 2008
“I have never been in Hell before. There are a lot of dead folks, I imagine.”
“Yes.” The Guardian’s eyes glitter, a warm paw touches her elbow. Libby wants to jump away but feels this could be interpreted as bad manners. Orange irises close to slits as the creature smiles, displaying sharp white fangs. “First time visitors always jump; I won’t be put off.”
“First time visitors...”
“Some come back.”
— Chimaera Constant
If having the author murmur in your ear is your idea of the total reading experience, you are invited to browse onetinleg.com’s audio offerings. These MP3 downloads are released under a Creative Commons license. They’re free.
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