Short Story Reviews
In Quinn’s story (The Missing Wife), a man actually turns into his next door neighbour’s wife. The premise which works in Quinn’s comic-book style writing, is made real to us not through some internalized thought process, but through the main character’s demand for make-up and women’s clothes. Internal motivations are suggested and inferred through gestures and snippets of dialogue. No longer does a narrator tell us everything we need to know, or even anything we need to know. As readers we depend not so much on the plot as on the tangible feel of the world’s capacity to evoke the mental pictogram of communal images into our skulls.
The credits list Philip Quinn’s “The Party” as poetry, but it shares an incantatory and impressionistic style…. “The Party” is an assembly of images, mostly conversational, from a garden party with associated lines of thought embedded in the remembering of these moments. It has a cumulative effect, adding layers to itself as it progresses, as in these lines near its close:
And the party goes on for hours after you leave. And there is that planet that they suspect exists because of the variance of the radio waves. Are they still playing “Louie, Louie” and the “Duke of Earl”?
“One Summer She Was Beautiful” by Philip Quinn is set mostly at a boarding
house which appears to be a kind of halfway home for former psychiatric
patients. Some way into the story, a new resident arrives, an elderly
lady, a former actress, who spends hours in the bathroom every day,
enraging the narrator, who gets a visit from the police. But she is
evicted in the end. The woman is never seen, except in an old photograph
from the nineteen twenties the narrator keeps. Feeling guilty that he
might have had a hand in her eviction, he passes her off in the photograph
as a great aunt who once acted in silent films. The first two pages of
this story are not as strong as the rest, but the unseen old lady haunts
the piece, a mysterious and poignant individual with a history the reader
can only guess at.
Kara Kellar Bell, Laura Hird's web site