The Rag Literary Magazine June issue 6

The Rag Literary Magazine Issue 6

Seth Porter , Daniel Reilly , Justin Duerr (illustrator)

Genre: Anthology, Short Stories, Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Poetry, Magazine

Five stars

Personal failure, self-examination, and the tyranny of entropy fill the pages of the Rag Lit Mag in June. Staying true to the monthly anthology’s gritty theme, the tales range from base to darkly whimsical on a tour through the self. My favorites for this issue were Best Work and On Bread Alone with their forays into the whimsical and departure from grim reality into both symbolic and spiritual regions. One or two tales, I felt ended too soon.

Best Work shocked and charmed with the artist’s self-destructive (literally) artistic process and the near-prophetic nature of his meeting with the homeless girl and her voracious drawing.

Bread Alone spun a bittersweet tale of a man who lived multiple lives through different bodies, jumping haphazardly from one to the next, yet knowing every thought and experience of the new self. The narrator’s profound love and ensuing spiritual journey was both ridiculous and beautiful.

The featured artwork was fascinating, and made me want to zoom in and examine closely the active, colorful, joyful, images tinged with terror and darkness.

The poetry in this issue fit well with the theme, illuminating scenes in sharp detail and drawing me into their emotion.

I received this book from the author for the purposes of an unbiased review.

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The Ball Washer by Lance Manion

The Ball Washer

by Lance Manion

Genre: Adult, Humor, Short Story Anthology

Five stars

The Ball Washer is a collection of short stories beginning with some lighthearted tales and then delving into very personal, graphic, and sometimes shocking themes. Some stories tell of boys who can erase the universe with paint, and others read like a masturbation recipe.

Not often do I come across a work that I admire, but don’t really enjoy. The Ball Washer is that book. As a parent of two boys, I have my fill of off-color jokes and disgusting humor. You can understand why I wouldn’t want to read it in a book, or really hear it at all, anywhere. In a home where flatulence passes as music in more than one person’s opinion, I just can’t enjoy it.

On the other hand, Ball Washer is incredibly well-written and cerebral for all its baseness. The contrast is rather fantastic. Lance takes the very graphic and often embarrassing parts of life and opens them wide for all to see. That is a kind of bravery in writing that not many authors can claim. The tales consist of some choice malarkey as well as a tongue firmly in cheek. A reader will discover such quotes as: “Originating in Kashmir, velvet painting is an ancient technique embraced by early religious leaders, and to this day many early works hang in the Vatican.”

My only non-personal criticism for the book is that it seems entirely too long. After six or seven stories, I checked to see how many more stories I had, and found I hadn’t even made it halfway through. At 74,000 words it could have easily worked as at least two separate anthologies, in my opinion. When I looked through some other anthologies available online, the only comparably-sized one was an anthology of novellas.

A few epically long sentences appear through the narratives. Nothing in them appeared incorrect; just don’t try to read the long ones out loud without first sitting down in case of an oxygen-deprivation nap.

I couldn’t finish The Ball Washer, both because of the length and the subject matter. I made it halfway. That doesn’t mean it won’t have merit for other readers, and one definitely gets plenty of well-written stories for their money. For me it provided TMI, but you just might LOL.

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Flash Bites by Krista Bunskoek

Flash Bites

by Krista Bunskoek

Genre: Short Story Anthology

Story 1: Freedom!

A teen girl, the child of the country’s best technology experts, escapes her strict boundaries. Using her wiles and her knowledge of her parents, she foils the top-of-the-line surveillance tech to gain her freedom.

Story 2: List for Love

Gillian is afraid of growing old alone. She has decided that after age 30 she will no longer be able to find the true love she longs for. Her last effort to find the man of her dreams is a dance class. How will she fare in her final try?

Story 3: A Day in the Life

What is it like to be a “loonie”, a Canadian one dollar coin? Well this is a story about just that.

Story 4: The Missing Part

A mechanic makes a fatal error during a break job on a young woman’s car. How does he reconcile his mistake?

Story 5: Day Job

Jenny is a spy completing a covert mission. She saves the day in time to make dinner for the hubby and kids.

Story 6:Domestic Bliss: 2022

Bill is a happy househusband in 2022 who downloads dinner instructions and tries not to think unauthorized thoughts.

Review:

Krista’s stories were all short, but filled with meaning and imagination. Her writing style is fresh and edgy, with characters you can feel and engage with in just a short narrative. Each story held an important message. Will you be able to see them? My favorite was the last one because it combined peaceful life with the sinister. Themes of freedom, secrecy, yearning for purpose, and responsibility make these stories packed with purpose.

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iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/flash-bites-few-short-short/id471779666?mt=11

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Flash-Bites-few-short-short/book-4D0laxQRtUK7c-geIRxt-g/page1.html

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/bunskoek?keyword=bunskoek&store=ebook