The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Month: December 2017

“The Dollar Bill,” a dark ten-minute comedy by Roy Proctor

based on “The Harbinger,”

a short story by O HENRY

© 2017 Roy Proctor
Inquiries regarding performance rights for “The Dollar Bill” should be addressed to the author at royproctor@aol.com.

PUBLIC DOMAIN:  “The Harbinger,” which was included in O Henry’s 1908 short story collection, “The Voice of the City,” is in the public domain.

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Book Review: Searching for Someday by Jennifer Probst

Searching for Someday is like a lollipop. You unwrap it, excited. I shouldn’t be reading this, you think. It has no real sustenance. But then you do read it, and you think, ugh, this is too sweet. And the prose is horrible. Did I ever use to like these? But it goes down quick before you really have a chance to think about it.

As a bodice-ripper, this book sort of succeeds. I’m saying “sort of” because it was page-turning and somewhat engrossing, which is really the only thing one asks for in books like this. I finished it in about three days. But the cringe factor is very high. I’ll leave aside the ridiculous nature of the premise – Kate runs a matchmaking agency called Kinnections, where she uses a combination of her supernatural ability to detect compatibility and real world dating advice to create lasting connections for her clients. She is also cursed to find one true soul mate in life. No one else will do it for her. OK, that part is fine.

Where the book starts to fall apart is when Slade enters the picture. A no-nonsense, super hot divorce lawyer, he becomes Kate’s client as a way of keeping tabs on his sister, who’s recently signed up for Kinnections. No. No no no no. Kate and her friends frequently cite Slade’s “protectiveness about his family” as a plus, but really? His behavior toward his sister is controlling, obsessive, unhealthy. Continue reading

“After the Battle,” an essay by Robert Joe Stout

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Book Review: Dead Spider, by Victoria Houston

In Dead Spider, the 17th installment in Victoria Houston’s Loon Lake mystery series, Charles Pfeiffer, the wealthiest man in town is murdered. It’s up to police chief Lewellyn Ferris and her deputy coroner Paul Osborne to find his killer. Dead Spider is a standalone story, and Houston briefly tells you anything you need to know about the characters in the first few pages so you don’t need to read any of the other books in the series before picking this one up.

A fast moving story, Dead Spider is a good beach read. It’s a light, airy page turner with a well-crafted mystery. The book relies on some mystery tropes (the murdered man has a bitchy daughter-in-law and a gold-digging wife, for example), but colored with Houston’s charming cast of small town characters, and the active fly fishing economy, it feels fresh. Loon Lake is based on the small Wisconsin town where Houston grew up, and you can tell she has a deep love for the area. Continue reading

Poetry by Allison Grayhurst

 

Naked Side

 

I’ve seen the destruction

of visions, the penetration

of a good cause, seen souls

anesthetized by sadness.

 

The only constant is endurance,

is the thing that jumps out from

the void then reverses back

into its indifferent swallow.

 

One change, then the moment

slips into a new glimpse of understanding.

 

One small desire fulfilled and all pain

is humbled.

 

Dark Prophets

 

 

They hold the ghost feather.

They cry by cause of extreme imaginations.

Paranoia on pillows,

the stench of shoes and month-old towels

under fingernails.

Liberty in sleeping pills & mirrors

that have no shine.

 

This they have, spirits stabbed

with hunger, doubt & arrogance

raging equally by their bedsides.

Encyclopedias divulged in dead languages

& hoards of filthy critics teasing with

axe and indifference

their true-goal flower.

 

They crack their heads on insecurity.

They do not believe in this world.

 

From balconies, from strait-jackets,

from honeymoon apartments, they expose

the human guilt, delicate visions

that seduce the blind with wonder.

 

The Loyal Unknown

 

I would like to hide

from the mountains, sleep

as a thief

in the assaulted night.

How do I compare my

 

enemies? They all smell

of slain desires,

itching like mealworms

in a bird’s thin crop.

Among the widowed faces

there is

a gateway

into the unfathomable, happy

past: Wolves eyes, I see

confronting with unaware darkness.

The hypocrites play

their tune so beautifully stagnant, making me stumble

into oblivion.

One day when I was walking

on Arizona ground in a dry summer,

I caught a glimpse of

icy love: It came

convulsing

from the sun

to avenge my perfect day. It was an apparition,

reconciling

the whole world

to the paradoxical

cross.

 

Sometimes smiles

are as irretrievable

as murder.

Someone is watching me

from corridors.

Today, it is chaos.

Tomorrow – a child

will be born.

 

 

Mother Chimp

 

Gentle Flo of the

great apes,

does not sing

nor look for

comfort from the sky.

Mother of patience and playful

as moonlight upon a wave. Face

like a roadmap of a sad

primeval journey. Sad

like the first thoughts

of wasted love. Sad

like the night jungle in all its

apparent peace.

 

Cry for the terrible loss

in the midday rains. Cry for the African

trees, rotting from the weight of

a human-made world.

 

    Shaggy arms embrace

to receive your large-heart’s manna.

The lonely climate

surrounds you

with child, near a river that carries

the many deaths of those before

your wild and doubtless

existence.

 

Giving Roses And Bread

 

I turned.

I will not turn again

from her sad space & ruin.

 

No wand, no crocodile

tongue will shut

me out.

 

The hour is blood, is

boiling, is locked

in her iron skull. Her back is straight

for the first time in months, and

her fingers tap the table one by one.

 

I saw her climb

the ladder & crash.

I saw the marrow leak from her bones.

 

I turned.

I will not turn again.

My smile will be her shelter,

 

and with my chains & circle,

I will build for her a garden

where the crows will dance

 

to drown her madness,

helpless

then gone.

 


Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net”, she has over 1125 poems published in over 450 international journals. She has sixteen published books of poetry, seven collections and nine chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay. www.allisongrayhurst.com

Book Review: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

This debut novel by Julie Dao is the first book in the Rise of the Empress series. The series explores the imagined youth of Snow White’s Evil Queen in an East Asian-inspired fantasy setting. Xifeng, the protagonist, is a strong, complex young woman struggling to choose between a path of light and dark. She knows the right thing to do, but a voice inside of her urges her on towards evil.

There’s a lot to praise about this novel: Xifeng, our heroine, is strong and powerful, but at the same time she is not immune to the culture and mores of her time. She has to be careful to seem humble and ladylike as she forges her way towards becoming the next Empress of Feng Lu. At the same time, she is more spirited than the women in classic fairy tales. She propels herself by her own choices, not quietly accepting what the world throws at her. Another divergence from the norms: following her destiny for greatness means leaving behind Wei, Xifeng’s handsome boyfriend who longs to marry her and live a quiet life together. We are told that Wei is meant to play some role in Xifeng’s fate, but it’s clear that Xifeng’s journey will be more about realizing her destiny than finding her one true love. Continue reading

“Her Trauma, My Silence,” by Alyssa Matesic

Two days after it happened, my best friend told me she was eighty percent sure she was drugged and raped at her hostel in Panama.

We both willed her to be wrong, but there was the blood in her underwear, the sick feeling in her head the morning after a night she couldn’t remember, the slow piecing together of half-memories. There was the fear, bone-deep, that overwhelmed her when she locked eyes with a man who resembled one of her rapists. Her instinct told her that her body had been violated. We both trusted it, because this wasn’t the first time.

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Book Review: Royal City, volume 1

In Royal City volume 1: Next of Kin, a new graphic novel by Jeff Lemire, a family grapples with the ghost of their dead son. Tommy died in 1993, but he left an indelible presence on the Pikes.

Royal City starts when Patrick Pike comes home to visit his father, who’s just had a stroke. It slowly becomes clear that each character is seeing a different version of Tommy’s ghost. Patrick grapples with guilt about using his dead brother as the inspiration for so much of his writing. Patrick’s mother sees him as the priest he could have grown up to be. His sister sees him as the child she desperately wants to have. In this volume, Lemire doesn’t cover much ground in plot. He’s laying the latticework for future volumes, developing a rich family history and taking his time to set up the mystery of what happened to Tommy in 1993. Lemire is known for his literary, quietly plotted graphic novels, such as the award-winning Essex County. Continue reading

“The Big Bangin’ Theory,” by Rosie Byrnes

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