by Mark Maynard
Paperback, ISBN 9781937226039, 157 pp.
Mark Maynard’s debut collection of linked short stories examines the characters of a town whose means and meanings are eroding away. In Grind, a homeless man wins the jackpot—and a large stack of pancakes (“Jackpot”); a prison inmate trains a horse toward life beyond the gates (“Penned”); a truck driver with the IQ of a child drives his empty rig up and down the interstate as an homage to his dead mother (“Deadheading”); a topless teen sunbathes on her roof as fighter planes careen overhead (“Sirens”); a grieving woman stores her breast milk behind the frozen peas (“Letdown”); and a pawnshop owner catalogues his wares by the natures of their violent pasts (“Trading Up”). In these stories, pleasure is cheap, heartbreak is a given, the past is dwindling away and the future is unsettlingly uncertain.