'Whiskey, Etc.': Sherrie Flick's collection of quirky characters in swift, bold gestures
April 3, 2016 12:00 AM
Author Sherrie Flick.
By P.S. Hogan
Sherrie Flick serves up a full sensory feast in her latest book, “Whiskey, Etc.: Short (Short) Stories.” Her collection of short stories and flash fiction covers an astonishing range of experiences and emotions. These tales illustrate the tension between lust and love, solitude and loneliness, grasp and surrender, grief and grace. Throughout, Ms. Flick’s deft and precise language keeps her created worlds and quirky characters accessible and intriguing.
"WHISKEY, ETC: SHORT (SHORT) STORIES"
By Sherrie Flick Queen’s Ferry Press ($16.95).
The nature of the micro story form propels the reader into a scene without benefit of character development or the traditional structure of a full story arc. Ms. Flick skillfully exploits these parameters and delivers prose that has a poetic sensibility. She’s not afraid to use rhythmic phrases or repetition. She leaves things unsaid, questions unanswered — to let shadows show the substance and silences fill out the void.
From “The Remembering” she offers: “The little dog and its leash. The walk and the playground. The slide and the swings. Midnight and the moon and swinging out toward the city view. We don’t talk about what happened on the swings.”
In “The World, Floating” the thoughts of one lover in conflict with another: “If you sit long enough, you can wait out just about anything. I’ve learned this trick. It’s the closest thing to magic I know. Silence. A magic wand in reverse. Take back, take back, take back. And then you’re sitting alone, like you’ve wanted to be in the first place, and little flakes of snow flitter down outside the window.” The reader is drawn in by the lyrical phrasing and concrete details.
Ahh, the details! Among the sweets and savories in these 57 stories we get sex and cigarettes, flannel and velvet, radios and pinball machines, Mason jars and yoga mats, canoes and wildflowers, porches and butternut squash, Nirvana and Hank Williams, bacon and eggs, coffee and Manhattans, dreamscapes, lakes, bars, a longing dog and a sauntering possum.
There are wandering women with “hearts too broke to break;” men and women who don’t want to be alone, at least for the night; sadder, but wiser girls; women in committed relationships gone flat like three day old, open beer. There are morsels of humor, too. In “Slow Fire Pistol,” Jody enters her new yoga class and observes, “Everyone looked out of shape but happy, even the instructor, Mrs. Whitefield, looked more like she’d bring a Jell-O salad than couscous to a potluck. I relaxed.”
From “Heidi Is Dead” the protagonist Jessica paints this portrait of her husband’s first wife, Katie: “To this day, she uses hairspray and thinks eating wings at the local sports bar is the hottest thing going.” Ms. Flick puts before the reader a buffet of humanity.
There is a haze of unapologetic longing in these tales. There are women sandwiched between their distant teen children and their dying parents. People trying to remember; people wanting to forget. “Whiskey, Etc.” encompasses the ordinary days and the difficult times and infuses them with wit and a sense of the sacred. From “Family Dinner” — “I make the tart, and it looks luscious, nearly velvety and so close to lust I think I might French kiss it.” You’ll be tempted to kiss this scrumptious book, too.
P.S. Hogan is a writer and artist living in Wilkinsburg.
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