The LitBlog Co-op is proud to announce our Spring 2007 Read This! selection:
Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead: Stories - by Alan DeNiro, published by Small Beer Press
Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead is a collection of short stories that combines the fantastic with the prosaic. A woman walks into a Quik-Mart and winds up on a hillside, surrounded by swords and scimitars. A tedious post-college job isn't quite as boring as it seems. And girls and boys flirt and touch and fly off buildings and escape Byzantine soldiers and pirouette and fall. Each time I thought I had these stories figured, they came around a corner to surprise me anew.
I adore the collection's merging of heart and humor, which sounds inordinately tedious. So here's a snippet from the title story to demonstrate:
"It's funny how a face is nothing like you remember it from the first gaze. Yes, she still had the high cheekbones and green eyes that I remembered from forty five minutes before, but seeing her up close was illuminating. My memory, the first time, got it all wrong. A shift and inflection in her features that I wasn't able to explain. It was like postcards you buy of, say, Angkor Wat or the Diseny Ruins looking nothing like the places you actually visited."
Heh. Disney Ruins. Just sitting there, all quiet-like, in the middle of a blossoming crush.
Alan DeNiro earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Virginia, and he brings a poet's skill with langauge -- both control and play -- to these stories. "A cuttlefish off the Rock of Gibraltar scurries away from a dolphin in a stream of ink, help help help," he writes in "Cuttlefish," a story which I half expect came about because the word "cuttlefish" sounds so cool.
We'll be discussing the book and at length in a few weeks, and we hope you'll join us. Me, I nominated the book, so I'm particularly thrilled that the members of the LitBlog Co-op found it a worthy read. We wholeheartedly suggest: Read This!