the Little Red Reviewer

Flights of Fiction, edited by Gery Deer and Barbara Huiner Deer

Posted on: February 8, 2015

flights of fictionFlights of Fiction, edited by Gery Deer and Barbara Huiner Deer

published in 2013

where I got it: received a copy from Gery Deer (thanks Gery!)

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I’m one of those terrible people who ignores the table of contents in an anthology. I read the stories in whatever order I please. Yes, I know this negates all the hard work the editor has put into choosing a proper order for the stories, and yet. And yet I should I have read Flights of Fiction in order, or at least read the opening story first, and the closing story last. The opening story, “The Dead of Winter” is one helluva opener – dark, subtle and twisty, and the closing story, “Kayfabe”, balances a secret of magic with the inevitability of a life at its end. This anthology was put together by WOWA, the Western Ohio Writers Association. A humorous description of how the book came to exist is on the back cover:

 

“in 2008, a group of authors in Dayton, Ohio, got together for the sole purprose of ripping each other to shreds, leaving behind the mangled hopes of promising scribes who lay finally broken and decaying on the floor. After that, robbed of all dignity, they went out for coffee and decided to write a book.”

 

All of the stories take place in Ohio, but you don’t need to be from Ohio (or even be able to find it on a map) to enjoy this collection. Here are some thoughts on my favorite stories:

“The Dead of Winter” by Michael Martin – A near-perfect opener to set the tone of some of the darker tales, with an effective whisper of a first line:

 

“What I’m going to tell you only makes sense if you believe that I love my wife”.

 

A post-apocalyptic middle America isn’t a new playground by any means, but pay close attention to the man’s relationship and interaction with his wife. How he makes sure she’s protected, how he takes care of her as if she can’t take care of herself, her silence. Your observant mind is telling you one thing, but the man in the story, he’s telling you something very different. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, for “it” to happen, what I didn’t realize until the closing sentence was that it had already happened, and he truly does love his wife. I fricken’ loved this story.

“Nose Art” by Philip A. Lee – Ever been to a Museum of Flight, or an Air Force Museum? I have, and they are a lot of fun, often showcasing everything from bi-planes to C-130’s to the big sleek fast ones that are invisible to radar. Benson Caulfield accidentally gets locked in overnight at an Air Force Museum, and the story that follows is part “Night at the Museum” and part psychological discussion of how what we get out of war experiences is directly influenced by what we bring to the table, by what we hope will happen. The name of the story comes from Benson’s favorite artwork on the fronts of the WWII planes, the whimsical animals, beach scenes, and beautiful beckoning women. The women smile, the beaches are peaceful, the animals invite smiles. In stark constrast is the artwork on the newer planes, the sharks, the gaping maws, even mushroom clouds. It’s the pilots and soldiers who choose the artwork that’s on their planes. Why does one person choose a pin-up girl and someone else chooses a mushroom cloud? How you respond to this story is directly connected to your personal feelings on the psychology of war.

“Bird Watching” by Kate Seegraves – It’s summer vacation, and Margot and Julie are bored out of their minds. Margot lives up on the hill, and has a pair of binoculars. The girls end up spying on the basketball court of a local jail, making up stories about the inmates. On the one hand, making up stories about complete strangers sounds like something I’d do as a teenager, but on the other hand, the girls are observing something they are too young to understand. To them, this is fan-fic of a sort, but real life in a jailyard is something very different. It didn’t surprise me when something happened to crush their fan-fic games, but even still, I hope their imaginations aren’t stifled by what happens. Look at me, all worried about the development of the imagination of a fictional character!

“Dear Mr. Chaney” by Tammy Newsom – This story will speak to a particular generation, or at least a particular type of film fan. It’s 1929, and actor Lon Chaney is paying a visit to an obscure single mother in Ohio. Arriving in full make-up, he scares her sons, who attempt to beat him up, until they realize who he is. The mother listens carefully to Chaney’s pleas for information, and she kindly tells him that movie goers want to be entertained, they don’t want the truth. She’s bought obscurity and safety for her children by way of her silence, it wouldn’t do for the truth (as boring and undramatic as it is) to get out, even though Chaney’s intentions are pure. An incredibly atmospheric story with a slower pace, this story has a very different feel from the others in the collection. “Dear Mr. Chaney” certainly has a conclusion, but there is so much that went unsaid, so many questions I want answered.

“Kayfabe” by Bill Bicknell – I really enjoyed this closer, but it’s a very hard story to describe. A dream-like tale about an athlete who can tell the future and the local girl who came to all of his events. Oh no, I’ve make this sound like a romance, haven’t I? It’s nothing of the sort, at least in the traditional concept of romance. All his life, Rocco the wrestler has been biding his time, and hoarding his knowledge of the future. And only his biggest fan, the girl who still believes in the world within the wrestling ring can help him. She and Rocco have their own secret history, one that has it’s own mystery. I’m purposely not telling you much about this story because I don’t want to spoil its powerful ending. It was a fantastic story, and the perfect closer to the collection.

I’ve been coming across a handful of these local writers groups collections recently, and there are always high quality stories to be found. Most of them are themed to the area, but that doesn’t mean you have to live there to enjoy the stories. And if you’re a fledgeling writer, give some though to joining a local writers group. Who knows, it might get you your first publishing credit!

1 Response to "Flights of Fiction, edited by Gery Deer and Barbara Huiner Deer"

Reblogged this on Self Publishing Agent Blog and commented:
Western Ohio Writers Association Anthology “Flights of Fiction” earns a great review …

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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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