Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"Felonies for which I was Never Apprehended: Chapter Eighty-Four", by Adam Cushman

From: The Mississippi Review Postmodern Pulp issue.

Everything's a matter of life and death when you're a teenager, from your girlfriend shacking up with another guy to your roommate stealing your Gibson Flying V guitar. In "Felonies...", Cushman takes typical teen angst and cranks it up a few notches.

As the story begins, the unnamed college-aged narrator and his best bud Roth are drinking, smoking, and fuming about their girlfriends, who are both down the street in the apartment of a former friend. Roth takes it the hardest and ends up slitting his wrists, but lives to regret it, and to urge his drug-fueled buddy on towards revenge. Which ends up being more pathetic than anything, but hey, it's payback.

Cushman uses a crosscutting narrative style that jumps forward from the present to the future and back into the past, and he has enough talent to make it work. Cushman also excels at quick character sketches - plenty of friends and relatives put in an appearance, usually detailed in only a few lines, and they all seem real.

With "Felonies..." narrative structure the obvious comparison is to Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, but I was reminded of the song "Pepper" by the Butthole Surfers: "They were all in love with dyin', they were doing it in Texas."

Except this time it's in Florida.

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