Prior to reading Jacobs’ flash fiction, I had never developed much taste for the form. I had come across short, short stories or flash fiction as they are called and gave them a go, then I promised myself never to read them again. So when I started following Jacobs’ literary blog and came across an occasional post of flash fiction, I would skip reading it. Fortunately, and typically me, I caved in eventually and decided to give the form another try… all I can say is: I am glad I did.
Mr. Bukowski’s Wild Ride is one of Jacobs’ published collections of flash fiction. It is a short book at 63 pages with 38 flash fiction stories, but do not let the size fool you. You can certainly read them in one sitting or throughout a day yet you might not do them full justice.
Each story is masterfully crafted with precision detail-telling like a heat-seeking missile. Take for example:
Maxine clawed at an extra-large bag of Lay’s potato chips resting between her meaty thighs on the plaid sofa.
from Bukowski and the Weather Report
What more could you possibly want to know about Maxine that is not covered in this one line? Flash fiction is not just about economy of words but making sure those words deliver every ounce of impact.
Then there are the brilliantly thought out parallels by Jacobs which immerse you immediately in their alternative universe, whether literary characters or cartoon characters, they are all well executed:
As Mr. Bukowski awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a giant insect. This was a bad thing, of course, on many, many levels. With pincers instead of hands he found the refrigerator door impossible to open.
from Bukowski’s Metamorphosis
The stories are hard-boiled and gritty, basically no-bullshit-tell-it-like-it-is. My only reservation is that a few of the stories are abundant with cussing that feel out of place. In these selected stories, there is less substance and energy, making the overuse of cussing feel like a mechanism to create an edginess. For me, this is my only qualm in an otherwise masterfully crafted collection.
I look forward to reading his latest collection: The Furthest Palm
Do visit Rodger Jacobs’ blog where his stimulating posts can immerse you in snippets of literature or the daily struggles he endures. If anything, his struggles will give you real-time insight into the life of a writer.