Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sangria by Gary Alexander

This story hit the spot. It involves a beverage critic. Pause there becasue you must ask yourself whether there can be such a thing a person who is sent to bars and restaurants around the world to sample drinks and write about them. Probably. There can't be many of them. In any event, Marshall Bascombe and his wife, Heather are in Spain, drinking when Heather notices a man from her past. This is not a very nice man, and, it turns out, the meeting was no coincidence. What the man did to Heather was something very Enronish, but what will Heather do to him and will Marshall's extensive knowledge of fine wines and liquors be of any help? This is the crux of the story so I can't very well answer these questions for you.

I can, however, say that the story is very well written, the characters of Marshall and Heather become, in a short space, very believeable, very real. I liked them. I commiserated with Heather for what had been done to her. I felt for Marshall because his life with Heather isn't entirely perfect though he'd like it to be.

I also applaud Mr. Alexander for the following facts which add to the story: first, it is in the present tense. This is somewhat unusual, not the easiest thing to keep going, and works perfectly here. It lends the story an air of insistence, I think. On the other hand, I might have just tagged the effect with a big word for no purpose. It works.

Secondly, the author is not afraid to write a story for adults - no sex scenes, sorry, but the vocabulary is a cut above what one often sees. No, you won't need to run for your dictionary, necessarily, but he does use words like "bumptious" and "impervious". This should not scare anyone away from enjoying the story. On the contrary, I mention it because I find the tone, the vocabulary, the syntax of this story a pleasure. Well done.

I should note that the story is to be foundin the current issue of AHMM. It is an issue chok full of good stuff. Go out and get a copy.

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