"The Moon Is Always Full" by Charles Coleman Finlay
"The Moon Is Always Full" by Charles Coleman Finlay takes place as three men reminisce about a friend who may or may not have recently committed suicide.
The first half of the story consists of the three men, Lionel, Martin, and Jim, talking about their dead friend, Ralph. This section of the story is almost entirely dialogue. At times, the dialogue, in order to convey some essential bit of backstory, becomes a little unnatural. However, about halfway through, the forced feeling disappears and the characters’ speech smooths out.
The strongest element of the story is the pitch perfect portrayal of the Midwestern dialect and character. Being an Ohioan myself, I recognized these men, and can vouch for their accuracy.
Finlay drops gradually less subtle hints as the story progresses to effectively build tension to the revelation at the end. The last half of the story is nothing short of brilliant in its depiction of an informal wake that crosses into dark territory through grief and too much alcohol.
"The Moon Is Always Full" is not a perfect story, but its strengths outweigh the few flaws, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.