Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On "Bodies" by Matthew Vollmer (4172 words) *****

I'm thinking of a review for a movie called The Vanishing. The reviewer said the movie told you everything you wanted to know and yet somehow still remained interesting--and haunting. Vollmer's piece is kind of like that. We get all the details in pieces, sure, rather than up front, but it's still seems like more than a story should tell us. And it stays interesting. And really, we don't even want to know those details, in the end, just like the narrator of this story doesn't.

This is a tale about a drunkard, a man with death wish or a revenge wish. It's also a story of trying to start over. The narrator, from the first, is one of a kind. Fantastic lines drop like candy from burst pinata in this thing, each paragraph a feast. One of my favorite passages comes when the narrator goes on a date with a woman he meets, whose clothing he describes as "alive and trashy in a way that commanded attention but caused people to ask: did that just happen?" And to make sure we know what he thinks, he adds, "I placed my hand on her lower back, to let everyone know whose side I was on."

Oh, and the place they go? It's this strange tourist spot where muscle has been pulled off bodies so that you can see inside, which is a fitting metaphor for what is going on in the story itself. Take a peek here at r.kv.r.y.

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