Book: Words on Wednesday Night edited by Janis Bolster

Often very good and atmospheric short pieces from a Maine writers' group

Words on Wednesday Night: Selections form the Rock Hill Writers' Group
Edited by Janis Bolster
Reck House Press, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-9824848-0-7
147 pages

Disclosure: I am a friend of one of the authors whose work appears in this volume.

Words on Wednesday Night is a collection of 25 short works written by the members of a Maine writers' group. They arranged for its publication as well. Most of the works are a few pages long and many are excerpts from larger works that have not yet been published.

Most of the works fall into a category that might be called domestic fiction. And since many of them are excerpts from longer works, there is often a limited amount of context supplied. But a great many of the works work very well on the level of atmosphere.

One of the best is "Nicky 1963" by June Vail. Take the beginning, for example:

    Nicky was whistling. He pulled the yellow
    waterproof trousers over his stained khakis and
    knee-high rubber boots. As he fastened the
    suspenders over his sweatshirt, he noticed the
    worn places in both the coverall and the boots.
    Neither did a good job of keeping out the salt
    water, and given the time he was spending in
    the boat, he went through clothes pretty fast.

    From the back seat of the old Dodge Nicky
    grabbed the foul weather jacked and slammed
    the door. He put on the jacket and yawned. The
    sun was not yet up. The sky was gray and it was
    too early to tell whether it would burn through --
    the fog might stay all morning.
    (p. 73)

What follows is a story that's told simply and elegantly and manages the difficult trick of making the reader feel more like an observer. Though the story is perhaps slightly marred by Ms Vail's somewhat unusual choice of a first-person omniscient narrator.

Not all of the works in the book are quite up to that standard but some are splendid and many will more than repay the reader's time.

The book is nicely designed, with the exception that it is typeset with distracting c-t and s-t ligatures. But that's a very small thing.

Posted: Wed - November 11, 2009 at 08:51 PM   Main   Category: