"Dog Girls" by Gay Partington Terry
With the most current issue of Fortean Bureau (#31), the editors are experimenting with speculative poetry, so there was only one new piece of short fiction offered.
“Dog Girls” by Gay Partington Terry is a story about belonging. The narrator, who is not named, encounters a group of women everyone calls the Dog Girls at her job as a waitress at Ory’s Diner. The Dog Girls are strong, free, kind, and strange, and the narrator comes to admire them.
The majority of the story consists of disjointed anecdotes about the Dog Girls, individually and as a group, and the narrator’s life with her grandfather. I was put in mind of the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, with the section serving almost as a gossip page in a small town newspaper. Unfortunately, it is so long and disjointed that it’s difficult to see how it fits in with the plot.
There is a lot of good writing in the story. The last third is especially powerful, as it examines the nature of love and loyalty. This is where Terry’s writing is the most confident. It is worth slogging through the beginning of the story to get to the bit of magic at the end, but I was left wishing the entire story was so polished.