TRAVELLING SITTING STILL by Robert Judge Woerheide


Short Stories
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People struggle with fraught predicaments–or their lurid perceptions of mundane situations–in this engaging collection.

A variety of characters and conundrums fill these fleeting tales. In “Kissing Margery Clean” a middle-aged man gives a ride home to the 16-year-old daughter of the woman he loves, an encounter that suddenly escalates from mere awkwardness to rape allegations. The dark “Rabbit” follows a stoned teen make-out session in an abandoned van that turns ugly. In “Chiquita Lady,” a husband loses his wife to that notorious lothario, Jesus Christ. In “Noam Chomsky for President,” a germ-phobic man stuck in Los Angeles traffic is enticed out of his bubble by a free-spirited redhead sporting the titular bumper sticker. The hero in “Aggravated” takes drastic action against a cricket that’s driving him crazy with its chirping. The would-be writer of “Giving Up” deliberately abandons all human contact to concentrate on his craft but doesn’t escape the Fed-Ex deliveryman. Two linked stories probe a war crime–POWs forced to dig their own graves–from mirror-image viewpoints: “Ausgraben” examines the last thoughts of a World War II GI captured by the Germans, while in “Hadji,” pitiless American soldiers mete out a similar fate to a captured Iraqi insurgent. “Razing the Dead” surveys an apartment complex featuring a dotty gardener with dozens of cats, a seething Vietnam vet and a graduate student with a yen for crystal meth and kinky sex, while the rather similar title story eyes a bus full of passengers, including a seductive male prostitute, a sneering punk and a philosophical wino.

Character studies with narratives that have no particular place to go, but stocked with enough vibrant detail and insight that readers won’t mind going along for the ride.

Pub Date: May 27th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-595-42238-8
Program: Kirkus Indie
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