The stories in The Soul as Strange Attractor are described by one reader as “literary fiction edged with magic realism elements,” in which, “early stories play out in the background and wings of later,” ones. As the characters speak, their intent is the truth. They take themselves seriously. We need not, but if we share their sincerity, something cardinal may arise, like gravity waves from the edgeless outermost.

The stories occur in the decades after WW II. The characters reside in Mudgap, a village in the Sierra Fangoso Mountains, west of Las Cruces, founded on gold fever and sustained by tourists and government. They have typical interests: blood on the White Sands, the Vietnam war, Dr. Reich’s Orgone Accumulator, Buddy Bolden’s lost recordings, space aliens, the true meaning of Christmas, the Crown of Aleppo, childhood pranks, the mystery of reality, the tedium of infidelity, tall tales, taller tales, ghosts, and, of course, coming of age. Time is a silent character, miming and mugging his way through the scenes, not in the background, but largely unnoticed.

Readers who doubt the existence of places not found on a map might consider: neither maps nor dictionaries were passed out with the Ten Commandments. The Soul as Strange Attractor doesn’t pretend otherwise.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Excerpt from “Big Henry,” a story from “The Soul as Strange Attractor”

   The up-thrust Permian strata, from El Capitan peak to the craggy towers of the eastern escarpment, authored drama above the desert highway. As the bus whined up the mountain toward Andy’s summer job, nature’s history fell open beside the winding road. The Carlsbad Caverns were secreted within its pages….
…As Andy’s rookie fog dissolved, he expanded his observations….(H)e made a teenaged boy’s reconnaissance. There was Mrs. Ledbetter, of course, but she was as old as Aunt Holly and not as pretty. The waitresses were mostly attractive, but still too old for him, and one was married.
   There was, he noticed, a…cashier serv(ing)…from a circular stand…. She had a creamy face, sculpted in bold contours that swept from jaw to eyes like Lady Justice…as beautiful from the back as the front….Her name was Auburn Macy. “But, she’s way over your head, Andy,” one of the underground boys told him as they admired her shapely form sliding into a bus seat. “Old Man Macy practically owns half the town.”
…It might have been that same day Andy first noticed Walt, the dishwasher, behind the steam table following Henry’s moves at the grill. Before long Walt was cracking eggs and pouring batter. In a few days he graduated to bacon and hamburgers. Henry used few sentences in training his towering protégé, relying mostly on example and phrases. “Listen. Listen. Put that with that. Put it together. Don’t mix them. Get mixed in your head. Put a face on it. Face it.” All that apparently meant something to Walt….
   “Henry’s teaching Walt a trade,” he overheard a waitress remark to her redheaded colleague.
And, thus, a youngster at the nexus of successive moments, finds things trickier than he imagined; the future more opaque than he guessed.

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Goodbye For Now

Goodbye For Now
Ever wonder what the Vietnam War was all about? So does Lydia. Every day. It’s a puzzle unsolved, but she muddles through in her coiling story, “Goodbye for Now,” collected in, “The Soul as Strange Attractor.”