Bats or Swallows

Vlassopoulos, Teri

Canadian zine maker Teri's short stories are so good, and I don't even like short stories. (I can call her Teri because we're social media friends, and I've read most of her zines.) Her protagonists come from a variety of backgrounds. Most are young, but there's also a mother (of a stripper in his 20s), and one of them is male. I found all of narrators relatable and real.

I dog-eared a bunch of pages, for images I liked, such as, "It was his first silent tantrum." from the first story, A Secret Handshake, a moving story about a girl getting left behind when her brother goes to find himself. Another is "The cast was bigger than I imagined, off-white, as if he'd already gotten it dirty." That's from the story written from the point of view of a mother. What a great mom thing to think about her teenage son's injury.

It's two paragraphs, so I don't feel right reprinting the whole thing, but basically the part I love from the story Hushpuppies has a Canadian couple in their 20s driving around the US, and their impression of America is formed by a motel lobby with a pamphlet advertising the dozen churches in the Ohio town and spyhole in their room over the bed's headboard, facing a mirror, presumably used to film couples and distribute the footage on the internet.

There's another bit from that same story about despite there being a ladybug infestation, after the couple's first kiss, upon noticing a ladybug on her toe, the narrator thinks "how special." I can easily imagine a friend telling me the same tale, and my thinking "Dude, there's a ladybug infestation. That's not special."

I also want to say that the book, published by the small collective Invisible Publishing is beautifully produced. The cover has a handmade look; I love the choices of typeface and the lack of typos.

Nov 15 2013