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.