NUNUM Blending Flash Fiction & Art
A NUNUM review of Bob Thurber's In Fifty Words
Bob is a product of Pawtucket, Rhode Island and by his own
prominence in Thurber’s In Fifty Words straight from the bang
Piercing Arrows and A Poet Laureate’s Death (3/15/19) hone the
surreal naturalist elements of the opening piece and together feel very much like a primer for the unique spiderweb inspection of life’s not so normal routine that’s on the way. But just in case the signal flare was missed, the final line of the fourth story, Classical Two-Handed Shove, obtusely bangs home the point that things are about to flip, ‘But on this night the boy was ready, and the girl was ready, their tripwire taut, the oven door wide open.’
Deeper into the collection thematic veins crack open as the stories bee-dance through imperfectly balanced moments. Pieces like ‘Side Effects of Radiation Therapy’ and ‘Dizzy Spells’ swell with brilliant glimpses into the darker stages of a life through a realistic lens that gifts a reader with slices of less than obvious moments with which to scaffold a meaning around. In other stories, ‘Midnight Visit to the Highest Hills’ and ‘The Moon in Decline’ the collection reorients seamlessly into a voice of fantasy and wonder before coherently tangenting back to a one-sided conversation on a beach or a couple discussing the moon. This balanced alternation between the minutia and the magical clips along seamlessly for the entire collection, which by itself is a rollercoaster you wished sold day-passes.
But it doesn’t, the collection ends and you have to put it down. Naturally, later on you’ll try and put a label on it, some way to summarize it all so you can elevator talk it at work. Lines float back into your mind, ‘Whenever we visit, I march silent shadow puppets across his gravestone.’ or ‘The handsome one said, “Our own mothers are dead. We hope you don’t mind.”’ but they don’t quite do it. Beautiful, no doubt, but without the context wouldn’t help anyone understand the breadth of these stories. And that’s the genius of the what Bob’s done, the collection avoids drawing a conclusion. There is no lesson being taught here, no conflict to be neatly sewn away into a solution right before the final page. But what In Fifty Words does do is let us walk hand in hand with a mind filtering through the present moments of adult life while flashes of youthful memories and unrecognizable wisdoms rain down a nameless colour over everything.
In Fifty Words is available in paperback and ebook at Amazon. And for more about Bob and his work head over to the dot com.
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Blending Flash Fiction & Art