Coddling the Untalented: Desert Gothic by Don Waters

desertgothicIn late summer, an editor at a southern Colorado-based bi-weekly magazine asked me to review a slim volume of stories by a writer who had lately been awarded the Iowa Prize for short fiction. I’m always slightly leery about contemporary fiction; I’d rather read non-fiction, and I’m of the opinion that good fiction writing ended with the death of Flannery O’Connor. How I would love to be proven wrong. Occasionally, a novel surfaces that I enjoy: Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake, Susan Sontag’s In America, and (going further back, to the 80s) Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s Disturbances in the Field. Short fiction, though, is another matter. Much of what’s published in that realm I find oppressively self-indulgent (i.e., Sherman Alexie) or merely feeble, perhaps engaging for a page or two at best. Nonetheless, I decided to take a crack at the proposed book, Desert Gothic. Even if I disliked the stories, which, as it turns out, I did, I welcomed the exercise. Continue reading “Coddling the Untalented: Desert Gothic by Don Waters”