The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Tag: fiction (page 1 of 11)

Book Review: “The Therapy Journal” by Steve Wineman

Therapy Journal


When therapist Becky discovers an unexpected pregnancy, it stirs something deep inside of her. She finds herself thinking back to the life of one of her patients, Lathsamy, who was sex trafficked as a child. Lathsamy is Becky’s foil as she comes to terms with her own childhood pain, which she ignored for so many years.

The Therapy Journal, a novel by Steven Wineman, revels in introspection. Wineman uses Becky’s journey to explore the power of memory and the damage of childhood sexual assault. He breaks Rebecca’s character into several parts: there’s Becky Therapist, who quizzes and soothes her. There’s 8-year-old-Becky, the part of herself that was cordoned off and abandoned after an unsettling childhood incident. And then there’s Rebecca herself. Rebecca’s narration is fairly self-involved, and completely unfiltered. She is wrapped up in her pain, unable to see her situation clearly: to her, her mother is a total narcissist, her father is incompetent and uncaring, and even her best friend is too “self-involved” for Rebecca’s taste. As a reader, it can be frustrating to be stuck inside of Becky’s limited perspective, watching her push away everyone close to her over minor incidents, but Wineman paints an accurate picture of a person in psychic pain.

Reading Becky examine her life and her own shortcomings in such full detail mimics the frustration of a therapist dealing with annoying patient. In one of Becky’s dialogues with herself as therapist, she says, “I mean here I am, mouthing off and acting like a petulant little girl and if you’re good with that, well, great but how is that helping me make this decision?”

However, that indecision is the point of this novel. It feels a bit like listening in on someone’s actual therapy appointments: a little bit uncomfortable, and slow-paced at times, but also morbidly fascinating in a voyeuristic sense. The author puts his background in mental health work to good use, making the problems Becky faces as she struggles to come to terms with her past, feel realistic. Some parts of the novel are more compelling than others (8-year-old Becky sounds more like a sarcastic teenager than the voice of a child), but on the whole it hangs together as the psychological exploration of a troubled character. Anyone interested in seeing an adult woman come to terms with repressed memories and childhood sexual abuse would enjoy reading this book.

 

 

The Therapy Journal will be released October 22, 2017 from Golden Antelope. For more information visit http://goldenantelope.com/index.php/news/41-steven-wineman-s-the-therapy-journal-is-coming-soon

 

 

“The Baby,” a short story by Simona Galant

The baby appeared on the doorstep of 12.5 Pleasant Lane at 9:37 in the morning on Friday, while Kate was watching the local news and Andy was in the shower upstairs. There was a loud rap on the front door, and she thought briefly about her roommate Hannah’s excessive online shoe purchasing habit. Kate opened the door and was about to scream but the baby was asleep and she wanted to hear the news so she decided not to.

“Forecasts are looking steadily grim for Poughkeepsie this afternoon— the heat is proving itself relentless, and there have been reports of dogs melting in the streets. To prevent your dogs from melting we advise you to keep them inside. Should you happen to see a dog unattended be sure to remind it of the dangers of 116 degree weather, as they often do not watch the news.”

The baby was in a plastic bin without a lid, one of those Rubbermaid containers from Target with the foldable handles. It was laying on a purple fleece blanket that was folded hamburger-hotdog and was wearing a cop-themed jumpsuit. “My hero wears a badge!” was embroidered in swirly letters. Continue reading

“Four Cereal Bowls” by Donald Hubbard

    After Four Cereal Bowls, my aunt never wrote another word or attempted to, a loss to art bemoaned by the literati of late millennial America.  Unlike Salinger, Aunt Merry did not disappear so much as she entered a prolonged supernova state, attending every opening and event and party in Manhattan.  She snorted coke at Studio 54 and posed nude and did a weekend of prison time after a Vietnam War protest.  

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Book Review: Watershed, a novel by Colin Dodds

Colin Dodd’s latest novel Watershed, a gripping thriller, begins when Raquel, a pretty young escort, is thrown out of a helicopter. From there, the story only gets stranger and more complex, as Raquel meets Norwood, a former sculptor who earns his living from odd off-the-books jobs and selling snakes. Set in the near future, Norwood is a “Ludlite,” part of a community that eschews all modern technology – part hipster, part Luddite.

After Raquel meets Norwood, the pair becomes embroiled in the sinister plans of former Senator Robert Hurley, also known as Rudolf Ostanze. Hurley is a man of seemingly infinite wealth and power who wants the one thing money can’t buy: the baby growing in Raquel’s womb, which may or may not be his. As Hurley sends Tyra, his hired hand, to dog Raquel, it becomes clear that Hurley is involved in a much bigger conspiracy. Meanwhile, plans are underway for real estate fraud, disguised as a commemoration for 9/11. Continue reading

“He Looks Like James Dean” by Jody Forrester

 

The date, June 24, 1967, had been circled and starred on our house calendar for months – the last day of junior high school and my first train ride. Last Christmas, my best friend Denise, moved from Los Angeles to Tucson for her father’s job, and I missed her terribly. We met on the first day in seventh grade English when she asked me to join her club. She was the only member so far; I made two, and soon we were inseparable.

Mutt and Jeff, the boys teased us; it was easy to see why. Denise was 4’9” to my 5’8” but it was only when I saw our image together in a picture window that I could see how ridiculous we looked, me usually bent almost in half to hear what she was saying. In spite of my excruciating self-consciousness about my size, we found each other like two girls shipwrecked, sharing a scrap of board to survive the wild sea of the families we were born into by accident. Continue reading

“Magic Lantern” by Steven Wineman

Magic Lantern

An Essay by Joshua Weinstein

 

“It is impossible,” T.S. Eliot famously wrote in the voice of Prufrock, “to say just what I mean.” Prufrock finds many ways to express despair—he also wishes he had been a pair of ragged claws, reflects on being snickered at by the eternal Footman, predicts that mermaids will ignore him—and it was Eliot’s genius to craft a poem of breathtaking beauty from the point of view of a guy feeling sorry for himself. I don’t think Prufrock’s angst at not finding the right words should be taken as a philosophical statement about the human condition. But that apparently was what the philosopher Wittgenstein intended when he wrote, “Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must be silent.”

When I ran into Wittgenstein’s dictum in college, I thought it was silly, an example of using academic-speak to make something trivial sound profound. I still do. We can’t talk about what we can’t talk about. Nu? Then there’s the paradox of talking about what we can’t talk about in order to say we can’t talk about it—quite the tangle. Besides, speech and silence hardly exhaust the range of options. What about music? Art? Primal scream? Beethoven’s rage may have been beyond the reach of words, but he found a way to express it. Continue reading

2017 February Contest Finalist: “Him Next Door” by Ste McCabe

 

Its 6.03 am when Im woken up by him next door, moaning for help through the wall in a deep disturbing slur: Jes-sie, ca-ca-call am-bu-la-lance. Feelwrong…’

The wall pounces with an earthquake-like thud. My framed Courtney Love picture flies onto the bare floorboards, shattering into glass knives. My heart drums in my ears like never before bu-bumbu-bumbu-bu-bumlike someone else’s heartbeat through an old stethoscope. Oh my god. Did Frank just collapse against the wall? I hear relaxed vomiting that sounds almost satisfying; I think of cake mix oozing out of a pipe tube.

I lie still in bed. I recall walking through the narrow brick corridor that leads to our tenement flat balconies on the day that I moved here. His enormous body blocked my way; stained tracksuit trousers stretched with desperate elastic. His little rodent tongue suggestively licked his scabby upper lip. Moving in, Blondie?he wheezed with a husky perverts voice. I ignored him and trotted quickly through to my ground floor flat.

The next day, our paths crossed there again as I tried to squeeze passed him with Mr Scruffs cat carry-box. His exposed stomach layers pressed against my bare arm, but it was impossible to free myself without dropping Mr Scruff. The intimacy of the moment sickened me: warm, skin-to-skin contact that left a rash of man-sweat itching my forearm. I had to scrub to get rid of the smell: nasty, cheesy sweat, like a hairy armpit that hasnt been washed in weeks. Continue reading

Riding The Red-White Caterpillar by Penelope Hawtrey

Park and Ride and I. January 26th. Ottawa. This is how we meet.

I park my car and then grab my overstuffed knapsack that rests on the seat beside me that holds various snacks and workout clothes. I turn and reach behind me, and blindly grapple to locate my brown leather purse that I flung on the floor of the backseat. My second bag weighs more than any Army Cadet has ever had to carry during a march.

“Ah! There you are!” I say to no one in particular. Locating both bags, I push my car door open as white snow whips against my face feeling like hundreds of pin pricks against my cheeks. The snow enters my Honda civic and dances around inside. With that, I stick my foot out. And that’s where we meet.

Snowbank and I; SNOWBANK 1, ME 0.

Snow worms wiggle between my hiking boot and ankle and then, smoothly shimmy their way down to my heel. When my feet hit the pavement, the cold ice crunches against my sock and bottom of my boot until it is pulverized into a puddle. And now, I have a puddle at the bottom of my boot. Continue reading

“If It Is Beautiful, It Is Passing,” by Robert Fay

Daniel Kearns didn’t believe he had much control over outcomes. Life came at him rapidly, inexplicably, and reacting was what mattered. The universe was a vague, dumb expression of indifference and he wasn’t the center of anything. This outlook was partly the influence of his father, who exhibited a Depression-era, knock-around humility now absent in the culture. But there was also his long, drawn-out ancestral inheritance, a French-Irish melancholia born in the hedgerows of Normandy. They said his people had been French Huguenots centuries earlier. The Catholics had reviled them, so they’d fled to Ireland, where they eventually became Catholic there anyway. It didn’t make any sense to him, but somehow the feeling of being lost, misplaced, had its origins in this generational saga, and he would have accepted this fate if he hadn’t thought so much about love and war.
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“Jelly Bean Squish,” by Tom W. Miller

As David unwrapped his arms from around her, Jocelyn felt as if a down comforter were being ripped away and her skin exposed to the cold night air.  Her fiancé’s mere presence always seemed to raise the temperature of the room a couple degrees.   His tall build, muscular frame, and chiseled jaw would quicken the beat of any woman’s heart.  His position as an up and coming trial lawyer at a prestigious firm advertised intellect and ambition.  His kindness and empathy indicated that he would not only be an outstanding lover and provider, but also a best friend.

David pointed the remote at the television and paused the episode of Masterpiece.  Jocelyn’s past boyfriends would suffer through episodes of the British drama series with her, but she knew they prefered sports or action movies.  When David, knowing nothing of Jocelyn’s preferences, had first shared his love for the Masterpiece shows, Jocelyn had felt destined to marry this man.

David stood up and walked toward the kitchen.  “A little peckish,” he said.  “Want anything?”

“What are you getting?” asked Jocelyn.  Please, she thought, don’t let it be

“Just a few jelly beans.  Want anything else or something to drink?” Continue reading

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