Tuesday, June 12, 2012

On "[Spoiler Alert]" by Laura Eve Engel and Adam Peterson ***

Winner of the Collagist Chapbook Contest, this work, for me, has more in common with prose poetry than with short fiction. Each one-page "tale" is titled "[Spoiler Alert]," and many of the short pieces focus on endings, giving "everything" away.

As tales, the pieces weren't terribly compelling to me, but as collections of brilliantly honed and polished sentences, this--like many a poetry collection--as a grand work. Indeed, sometimes sentences are enough, as seems to be the case in some poetry reviews I've seen, where the reviewer gushes about individual lines (yes, but what does it all mean? and how does it work on me personally, emotionally and intellectually?).

So let me rehearse some great lines. The opener is a kicker, about how "everything is people." Indeed, as the authors prove, everything is. I also particularly liked the second to last piece, about a set of murderers simultaneously taking blame and denying it. The piece on shopping malls is a good one too--"To be lucky," we learn (and have to nod after thinking about it), "means to sleep beside a person so well-suited to yourself that on Valentine's Day you each produce the same bauble purchased the same President's Day Sale at a mall." Lovely thoughts and words.

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