Review: Itty Bitty Writing Space

Itty Bitty cover image

Itty Bitty Writing Space

Edited by Jason Brick & Dani J. Caile

Cover by Arthur Wright

Full disclosure: I am one of 104 authors in this wide-ranging flash fiction collection. It’s good company to be in.

This collection is like an assortment of quality chocolates: everyone will have different favorites but no one who likes stories will go away disappointed. With minimal commitment, readers can sample outside their preferred genres and might even discover a new favorite author.  I at first thought the book would be handy to fill brief wait times; at no more than three pages each, each story can be read in a few minutes. But it’s hard to stop at just one!

I also love the cover, which manages to be completely adorable yet not at all childish: an itty bitty writer, hard at work on a tiny masterpiece.

Square Pig in a Round Hole-July 9, 2017

Square PigNaming a band is an act of concentrated creative expression. Square Pig in a Round Hole exists to reward five favorite band names each week. Winners are (usually) listed alphabetically. Selection is wholly unscientific and subject to whim, with a bias toward wordplay, humor, and local flavor. In most cases, I won’t know anything about the bands at the time of selection. Thanks to the Seattle Times club listings for abundant source material!

Posting a day late because yesterday, we ran away to beautiful Whidbey Island to taste liqueurs and wines, and to attend an important family birthday party. And also to delay having to choose which of an overabundance of great band names to honor this week. I finally went with the shortest and the longest:

BUHU

Short one first. I chose it for the condensed spelling of a sob. Then I learned it is also the name of a yokai, a being I only recently learned about when I read the terrific new novel Wrestling Demons by Jason Brick. I love the serendipity!

Colt and the Peacemakers

I love the classic X and the Y structure, especially when the two parts together refer to something else, and the something else has its own inherent irony.

I Set My Friends on Fire

The literal is kind of horrifying this close to July 4th, so I’ll go with the metaphorical. The right kind of friend group can inspire creativity; even incandescence. (Inspired by that family birthday party for a young teen who has wonderful friends.)

The Lark and the Loon

This pairing of differently musical birds offers another angle on X and the Y structure, where the two are equals. The repeated L sound makes it sing off the tongue.

The Spirit of the Beehive

This summer seems to be developing a bee theme. Last week was The Hula Bees, now this. I like the idea that the humming hive is an entity with a life and spirit of its own.

Review: Wrestling Demons

Wrestling Demons cover

WRESTLING DEMONS by Jason Brick (Not a Pipe Publishing, 2017)

The title might not make you think “lovable,” but that’s what Wrestling Demons is. This sports-fantasy mashup is smart, funny, and sweet.

It opens with the natural drama of a high-school sporting event, in this case a wrestling match. Protagonist Connor Morgan is big and athletic, good enough to get a varsity slot as a sophomore. But he’s the new kid, unsure of himself socially (a nice realistic touch), and on the bad side of the senior he beat out for that varsity slot. After the match, things go weirdly supernatural in a scene that is equal parts horror and farce. Apparently some of Connor’s schoolmates are . . . demon hunters? And apparently, so is he.

Connor is an appealing character, his inner voice filled with comedy and pathos. His Maori heritage is a nice touch of diversity in the beginning (and should appeal to fans of the movie Moana, too!). With its sports and action emphasis, this is a story aimed at male readers, but with plenty of genuine, natural emotion and strong female characters, including Connor’s wrestling teammate (and demon hunter) Sage Kaiser, like-interest Susan Freaking Parker, and his mom, a hardworking nurse who moves herself and Connor frequently to stay away from his dad’s addiction issues.

Exposition about wrestling and Connor’s backstory are handled gracefully, dribbled into the action of the early chapters so even readers with little or no background in the sport can keep up, and Connor’s loneliness makes sense. He longs to make connections, but almost doesn’t dare because what if he has to move again? But—Susan Freaking Parker seems to like him, and training to fight demons naturally leads to friendship with his fellow champions. Can he dare to care when they’re up against a powerful, unknown enemy? Brick does a terrific job of hiding the main villain’s identity from both the characters and the reader while providing several plausible candidates, leading to a nailbiter final confrontation in which Connor has to reach down deep and find his real strength.