Since Kim interviewed Gay Degani about Rattle of Want last week, I thought it would be cool to take this week to give my thoughts on the book. After all, Kim loved the book…and I was pretty fond of it myself.
For those who don’t know already, Rattle of Want is a collection of stories. It’s flash fiction for a most part, a few are fairly experimental flash sorts of pieces and there’s even a novella-in-flash. Good stuff, and right up my alley.
There’s quite a lot of variety in Rattle of Want. Loss, humor, redemption, beauty—there’s as many subjects and characters are there are forms Degani makes use of. For a personal favorite, and certainly for humor, I don’t think you could go wrong with “Blusterfuck”:
You stride into the living room of Layla and Henry’s luxe mountain cabin, your overnighter catching on the door jam. You’ve driven three-hours in the clunky Subaru because your ex claimed the Caddie in the divorce.
Henry is sprawled on the couch watching a sports-talk program — something about the Dodgers — and holy crap, next to him is Rex the blow-hard, the braggart, the Blusterfuck. It’s all you can do not to flip a bitch and head home. Then Henry, lovely, oblivious Henry gets up and gives you a hug. Blusterfuck grunts a greeting over his shoulder.
He sees himself as jovial, hilarious, but humble, too, don’t you know, just another wealthy Joe out of Westwood. You, however, have a different take, and picture him head down in the toilet, under the wheels of your Subaru, or better yet, down the mountain, tied to a railroad track for the 4:30 Amtrak pass.
For touching, why not “Beyond the Curve”:
Three months after Allen Winter’s bicycle became a tangle of aluminum on Huntington Drive, his widow Carol moved into a small cottage along the Arroyo. The new property was tucked into a curve of the road, the narrow front yard closed off by white oleander and a six-foot iron fence. The path leading to the front door, visible at the gate, soon became invisible because, like the street, it too was curved.
“Go ahead,” he said. “Make fun of me. Just buy a magazine, okay?”
She should send this pushy boy packing. He would so, she thought, if she explained about Allen. Allen. How he loved to ride that damn bike. She started through the iron gate into the empty street.
When she slowly turned back, eyes wet, the kid stood in his bare feet, his baggy shorts now resting on his hips, Spiderman underwear peeping out, the magazine pamphlet unfurled in his hand, his face eager. She shook her head and strode away, heart squeezing and unsqueezing, up the path.
She waved. “I’ll take one or two of those magazines. Let me get my wallet.”
The stories in Rattle of Want are like you wandered into an unfrequented part of your basement and found a staircase into a tiny yet fascinating and intricate world. You just climb down in, often forgetting about the world above. Though the emotions evoked were as varied as they were intense, I was always enjoying the read.
Rattle of Want is definitely a recommend from me. Kim and I don’t always agree (or agree completely even when we do agree), but we agree on this one.