The Inconvenience of the Wings by Silas Dent Zobal
Kirkus Star

The Inconvenience of the Wings

Email this review


Zobal’s debut collection of well-crafted short stories leaves a lasting impression.

Although grounded in the real world, Zobal’s stories read like fairy tales and urban legends. In the opening story, “Camp of Low Angels,” a group of boys flip their counselors’ controlled world upside down—hilarity and heartbreak ensue. A woman dies during a snowed-in vacation in “The Bellwether,” and her companions must dig an icy channel to the barn to make a place for her corpse. In “Outlaw,” an attempted Old West–style robbery of a gas station goes absurdly wrong. And in “And We Saw Light,” a bare-foot woman walks singing down a road, carrying a dripping gunnysack, its contents unrevealed. These images evoke weighty themes: savagery, loss, memory, and death. Death lurks in every story: “The water spoke of what it was to be dead. It was flat, still, and empty; yet on its cold surface wore our lifeless image.” The stories meditate on how people confront the inevitability of death, how they talk about it or avoid talking about it, how they remember the dead and, in remembering, keep them alive. One character says, “Let me admit that I have never believed that the dead are entirely gone.” Zobal draws attention to language, sometimes via his characters, who ponder the meanings and shapes of words. In the title story, a ghost writes words for the living in spilled salt on the table: “Woodshed, read the words in salt, birdcall, bone.” Zobal also experiments with structure. The tales spiral in on themselves or proceed in unconnected bursts, like the memories they evoke. Each story links to the one that came before it, sometimes by only a word or image, sometimes by a larger theme or emotion. The final story, “The Hospital,” completes the chain, delivering an emotional change-up of both grief and hope for a new life.

Haunting images and poetic prose flood this noteworthy collection.

Pub Date: June 15th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1942515012
Page count: 178pp
Publisher: Fomite
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2015


IndieTHE SHANTYMAN by Rick Spilman
by Rick Spilman
IndieThe Inconvenience of the Wings by Silas Dent Zobal
by Silas Dent Zobal
IndieWHERE IS PIDGE? by Michelle Staubach Grimes
by Michelle Staubach Grimes
IndieDare To Be Your Own Boss by Maya Sullivan
by Maya Sullivan


IndieTHE LAKE OF FAR: STORIES by Paul R. Lilly
by Paul R. Lilly
FictionTHE NAME OF THE WORLD by Denis Johnson
by Denis Johnson
FictionTENTH OF DECEMBER by George Saunders
by George Saunders