Trunk Stories #3

Note: This post was imported from an old content-management system, so please excuse any inconsistencies in formatting.
"The Tamer" by Neil Ayres
"The Good Part" by Carole Lanham
"Unvincible" by Michael Northrop
"Subliminal Verses" by Brett Alexander Savory
"Silent Corners" by Nate Southard
"Manfleas" by William Wilde
I was happy to discover Trunk Stories—it is of those little magazines, in the tradition of Flytrap and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, that publishes quirky, interesting fiction on a small budget. Fiction is complemented by lovely line illustrations, poetry, and non-fiction.

"The Tamer" by Neil Ayres is a modern-day tale about a lonely young woman who watches a lone rook, and a lonely young man who watches her. This story is well-written, and the characters are engrossing; thus, I was a bit disappointed when the story just ended; it seems to be a chapter from a longer work. This excerpt, however, made me want to read the whole thing, so it is effective as a teaser.

"The Good Part" by Carole Lanham is the longest story in the issue, and it justifies its length by an interesting premise and an unusual conflict. It’s a very different vampire story, told from the point of view of a young boy whose sister becomes a vampire. The relationship between the siblings is the focus of the story, and this is what makes it exceptional. The protagonist who struggles with his love for his sister despite her monstrous propensities, who is forced into a great sacrifice for the sake of family bonds held my attention and sympathy. The complexity of his feelings about his sister made this story a satisfying and thought-provoking read.

"Unvincible" by Michael Northrop is a horror story that relies not on shock, but on a slow unraveling of a twisty human mind. The protagonist has lost his leg as a young boy, due to a brown recluse bite. He seemingly adjusts to his loss, until he meets a woman with one arm. This is a good read, and an interesting study of human loss and its long-term consequences.

"Subliminal Verses" by Brett Alexander Savory is one of my two favorites in this issue. This is a strange little tale about words that live in our minds. It reads a bit as stream of consciousness, but the theme of parasitic, viral words emerges quite clearly. I’m a biologist, and was reminded of transposons—bits of DNA that serve no other function than self-replication, sort of a completely harmless and thoroughly abstract parasite. To see this idea transported into the realm of language was unsettling, fascinating, and affecting. Highly recommended read.

"Silent Corners" by Nate Southard was my least favorite story in the issue. It wasn’t bad, but it ran a bit long for its premise. A protagonist who studies acoustics learns that spaces have varying properties in regards to sound—some cannot receive or transmit any sound at all. So the protagonist decides to find such dead space in his dorm room, and succeeds. It’s not what he expected. I don’t want to give away the ending, but it required a greater suspension of disbelief than I was comfortable with.

"Manfleas" by William Wilde is a bizarre tale, taking place in the world overrun by half-fleas, half-people. What makes this one work is that the author focuses on a single family as they encounter a herd of manfleas during a drive. The dynamics between the parents and their autistic (or so I thought initially) child feels genuine and heartwrenching. Mr. Wilde once again demonstrates that the reader will happily accept the most unlikely scenario, as long as the protagonists are believable, and their plight engages our empathy.

A very good issue. I will be looking for more; this is one of those smaller publications that takes risks and wins.