“The pond was deeper than its size suggested.”
‘Amidst Traffic’ is, without any hesitancy at all, the most interesting book this reader has experienced this year. It is deeply philosophical and psychological fiction, taking a careful and always critical look at people and situations we usually dismiss with a cursory glance every day. We might also call it “Visionary Fiction.”
Many of the characters in this collection are visionaries: prophets in their own ways – some forces for good, some forces for evil. These stories are remarkable for their examination of “the big questions” in very unusual ways. They are not easy stories. We find alter egos and a cacophony of voices just this side of schizophrenia.
Trevor who actually hears voices and defies a bank robber in ‘A Voice With Reason;’
Eli and Charles who, unbeknownst to either of them, share similar obsessions in ‘Three Straws’ “So he went on until the pain was too much, which was better than anxiety, and the hole grew deeper.”
Myron, his introduction to Iraq, and his attempt to witness to his fellow soldiers in ‘Blessed Are the War People.’
Lyonya and her tattoos, as she observes the shadowy narrator in the title story: ‘Amidst Traffic’ from her window, as she contemplates “How could she make her boy love her? How could she make him the central focus of her life and purpose? “
The Pizza man, Bobby Black and Dante as “… maybe the cars sweeping by just dragged the air behind them, carrying lives and voices along. Melodies and furies…” as they shoot a hapless pigeon on their quest for the source of a strange hum: “All of it clean. All of it a bit too shiny for a game of attrition and muddy shoes to have played the night before. ” in ‘Tin Can Mind.’
The ‘Return’ of a football – a transaction that was much more and much less than we might expect.
The ‘Clouds in The Water,’ one of my favorites, as is Three Straws. Jenny and Samuel and waterfalls where: “Only the buzzing of wasps held the authority of sound.”
A cell phone sounding the alarm in ‘Lost In The Night’ while Grace and Kevin try to find their way back to a status quo ante.
Adren and Daren at the Circle K, where time stands still: “On the clock across the highway, the time is still midnight. Still midnight. Still midnight”
Taps in ‘Consumed’ and the flag folded for a small boy. “And in all of my days, the sky never looked as blue as the eyes of that child.”
Scott Myers and his shoes discussing milk, singing in French and existentialism.
“Tête, épaules, genoux et pieds. Genoux et pieds,” Jean was singing on my third day there, and already I was getting sick of it. “Shut up you freak! Shut up!”
‘The Problem with My Shoes’ becomes our problem too.
Momentum and pain as Simon tests his mettle in ‘Rolling Down the Mountain.’
The loss of Hailey and a doe as they collide with Rob and disappear into the night. in ‘The Chase.’
What it might be like to be divine and judge strangers as we observe them in ‘The Staring Game.’
A flight not taken,a newspaper received and a newspaper given in ‘Gratitude.’
More terror in ‘Black Coats at the Cheyenne Diner’
Relief at Victor’s reprieve in ‘Small Pleasures.’
And still more stories pummel us. ‘The Follower’ and ‘When the Knife Opened’ are intensely psychological stories. In fact, most of these are so. This reader can say honestly that she found each and every one fascinating in its own peculiar way. One must note that there are a few anomalies in the editing, but the writing is very strong. The narrative voice (and all the others) will disrupt your thinking with an intense interference pattern. This collection of stories is a challenge.
Leila Smith, for The Kindle Book Review. The Kindle Book Review received a free copy of this book for an independent, fair and honest review. We are not associated with the author nor with Amazon.