Kevin and Zipper are the trouble cavalry.
And therefore, to be sure, an anachronism. Kevin and Zipper belong in a museum, or, if there were such a place, in a zoo for dangerous ideas. By all means let them be seen, visited. Let them be admired. For is theirs not the same material, the same force that produces the beloved heroes of romance: Roland, Lancelot, Coeur de Leon, the vainglorious Custer himself? In a world founded on trouble, trouble’s thoughtless cavaliers have a necessary place, an honorable place, a place of legends. In a world founded otherwise the ncessity is gone, the honor is gone. Only the legends remain, and they are reduced to constables’ reports, to the repetitious, digressive stories of the small towns and villages.
Thus, Kevin and zipper’s breaking into Condosta’s
From the story “Bandit Poker” by Castle Freeman Jr.
This is one beautifully-written book of short stories. And I don’t say that lightly – short stories are my favourite genre of writing and thus I have read my fair share. I have also stopped reading partway through many collections because I am fussy about what I want in a short story – and I can’t be bothered to read those which don’t meet my criteria.
It might be fragmentary, slightly prose-poemish, or otherwise esoteric in form. It might be stuffy, or humorous, or strange in shape and content. These aspects are what make short stories magical – little forays and experiments in setting, style and character. But at the end of the piece, no matter what, I want a whole story to be told. Not a piece of a novel, not a hint of more stories to come – but a complete entity unto itself to be enjoyed without reference to any other work.
In Round Mountain, Castle Freeman Jr. gives us just that. Though it’s a linked collection – each piece featuring the same characters and setting – the twelve stories in here could stand on their own, complete and compelling tales. And as a collection? A study of character and place that sneaks up on you, partway through. A portrait of life in a small town as a teenager, a cop, an aging codger, a good neighbour, a sensible individual, a frustrated husband….. each of these embodied in Homer (our main figure) as he provides the anchor for the stories woven around him.
Best part about this book? It was free, and not only that – I will be giving this copy away when I am done. I got this in the mail Monday from Concorde Free Press as part of a program to encourage charitable giving. You can read about it here. Basically, you get a book for free, make a charitable donation in exchange and post what donation you made on the Concorde website. Once you are finished reading, you sign the back of the book and pass it along.
Interested? Let me know if you would like this book when I am done (and can commit to reading, donation and passing it along) and I will pass it along to you! I think this is such an amazing project, I really would like to keep the pay-it-forward going via this blog – so please let me know in the comments if this appeals to you and I will send it your way.