Books

Another Night at the Circus

Rose Hunter's book

Rose Hunter, who visits here from time to time, has just had published a collection of interconnected short vignettes, and I have recently finished reading them. The book is available from Amazon.

I hesitate to call this a story collection, because standing alone none of them qualify as “short stories,” in that there is no definable beginning and no end, which makes them vignettes or scenes. It is their interconnectedness, the sharing of voice and narrator (Alex, “hooker, stripper and massage parlour worker”) that links them into a collected series of pieces. This feels to me more like a very short novel than a collection of stories.

Rose, as one can easily determine from her webblog, is a poet; a poet with a contemporary and very hard feminine voice. These pieces reflect more the poet in Rose than the story-teller. The voice of Another Night at the Circus, Alex, narrates in the poetry of the street, the poetic sensation of night in dirty places, the degradation poetry of the sex trade; a unique voice that I wish were expanded.

My compliant about Circus is a compliment: It is too short, there is not enough; after each scene I wanted it to go on, to find out more, what happened next?, is Annika all right?, why is Alex doing this?, why does she let these slobs use her like a tissue?  Why? Why? Why?

I liked each piece, but my favorite is probably “Mock Orange.” It is the best vignette because it is the only time Rose allows the reader to feel some hope for Alex, even if she dashes it blithely at the end. In that piece, Alex seemed to have a shot, a chance. And we learn something about Alex that she seems unable to control — the unrelenting sarcasm bred in cum-stained beds and slimy desperate tongues; Alex lets her mouth blow it, and not in the way she is paid for.

Rose takes us through a lot of a very grimy world with Alex, then kicks us with it at the very end. She ends with Alex saying, “At that time I was twenty-four,” and the last line is, “More time passed.”

What happened during that time, Rose?

This is worth your time to order and read. It is a very fine short collection of vignettes in the unique voice of woman who has much to teach us about the world on the other side.

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Categories: Books, Random Reviewing

12 replies »

  1. Rose, I’ll order it. Donigan, you should copy and paste this review into Amazon to drum up some publicity. Hope you sell bunches, Rose.

    • That’s a good idea. Why didn’t I think of that? I think you will enjoy Rose’s work; it is wildly different from yours, and you can both learn from each other. So sayeth the padre.

  2. If I didn’t want to say these things, I would have stayed quiet.

    I like the new blog look too because it is more space for writing not dominated by froo-froos and pictures. If anyone uses WordPress, the template is called Journalist 1.9.

    Oh Rose, I did jiggle this comment around a bit and post it to Amazon, but it said it can take 48 hours to appear. That was Court’s wise idea.

    And Rose, get Jack just right. I am so ready to read it.

    • Be sure to leave a review on Amazon after you’ve finished, Tracey. I think potential buyers actually read those things.

      You and Rose do have one stylistic trait in common: you both frequently use vignettes, “slices of life” images to tell stories or reveal character.

  3. Note to Rose:

    You said in an email that all your early readers like Mock Orange best of the group, as did I. Now your duty is to force yourself to read Mock Orange, only that one, again, many times again, and keep asking yourself what is it that appealed universally to those disparate readers?

    I know why, but let’s see if you can find it before I have to show you.

    Don

  4. ah…and now i know why you once asked me if i was writing a novel through my blog posts, or why i haven’t managed to write a really good short story in a long time. my voice has shifted, at least at this point in my life as a writer – in me there’re all these vignettes that should really be a novella or something, i suppose i just have to keep churning them out and see what happens.

    • Yes, Nicole, there are similarities in the way you and Rose write, in that you both create scenes that always seem to be looking for their story home.

      Another thing you share is focusing on having a distinctive voice in your narrative voice, but there the similarity ends. You, Nicole, have a softer, much more introspective narrator voice, while Rose’s is harder, more jaded and worldly.

      I would like to lock both of you in a room and not let you out until you have figured out how to make scenes into stories.

  5. When I submitted the review, a note appeared saying it would be visible in 48 hours. Probably to deal with spam and trolls.

    WordPress is more complicated, but just a little, than Blogger, but it offers you many more options in designing the look of your site. What’s complicated (for me) was trying to set up that homepage site with my own domain name (doniganmerritt.com), and I am still tinkering with it.

    Anyway, WordPress may look complex, but the only complexity really is having a lot of choices; actually it’s mostly pick and choose, drag and drop, then type away. I prefer it to the Typepad thing I had because, well first, it’s free, and it is just as professional looking.

  6. Rose, as of yesterday, my copy is due to ship around the 4th June from the US as I couldn’t get hold of it on Amazon UK. I am so very thrilled for you and of course I’ll leave a review once I’ve read it.

    Now please excuse me because part two of my script is about 15 pages away from reaching it’s dramatic conclusion and I can’t wait to find out how it ends:-)

    • I wonder how that works? I see my books on all sorts of national Amazon sites (Uk, France, Spain, Italy, etc.) but don’t know how they got there are where orders are shipped from.

      I will also be interested in your impressions of Rose’s style.