"Another Coming" by Sonya Taaffe
"A Deconstruction of Beauty" by Danny Adams
"The Barn" by Mark Steensland
"Found" by Patricia Russo
"Where's the Matter" by Brian Maycock
"C2" by Alarice K. Breidert
"Painting Possibilities" by Jennifer Rachel Baumer
The only story in #32 that caters to the "alien" in alienation is Patricia Russo's "Found." A woman, Abbie, finds an alien baby and takes him home believing that he will learn to love her as she's come to love him. She also finds herself alienated from her friend, Peig, when she calls the alien "ugly," upsetting Abbie. Who can't relate to that? Having a friend mad at you for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, or having different tastes in art, in what makes the perfect partner, or even the perfect alien. When conflict arises, I sometimes act like it's never happened, or I apologize. In either case, I move on, which Abbie isn't willing to do. That flaw makes her more human. "Found" was exceptionally well written, odd, and, especially at the beginning, funny.
Preceding "Found" is Sonya Taaffe's "Another Coming." Despite the name, the story doesn't have anything to do with extraterrestrial life forms. It deals with the same theme as Patricia Russo's story, the quest for love and acceptance. Acacia finds herself pregnant but doesn't know who the "father" is, her lesbian lover or the man they've both slept with. As far-fetched as it is to think Quince could sire the baby, the story is provocative; its in-your-face style will cause readers to think, react, and feel for the characters, much in the way that Tom Piccirelli does in "Choir of Ill Children."
"Another Coming" was one of the best stories in this issue. It shows Taaffe's ability to write both prose and poetry in passages such as "When men began to increase on earth and daughters were born too them, the sons of God saw how beautiful the daughters of men were, and took wives from among those that pleased them."
Taaffe also contributed two of the poems in Not One of Us #32: "Refractions" and "Daughters of the Ash-Tree." The other five poems belong to Karen R. Porter, "Unseen" and "Dirty, Funky Muse"; Nancy Bennett, "Blood Boils"; John Grey, "Ugly Joe"; and Kent Kruse, "All Those Nights of Dying."
Danny Adams's "A Deconstruction of Beauty" depicts a cop who stumbles across a painter who only paints things that don't exist. Even though this story is worthwhile, I didn't enjoy it as much as the others preceding it. Its pacing dragged before its message could sink in. I was, however, impressed with the author's style.
Brian Maycock's "Where's the Matter" mirrors what's happened in many towns where the largest business closes shop, laying off its entire workforce. The town slowly dies unless new companies come in, rehiring those who have been let go. This is the focus of "Where's the Matter?" When Fartown's mine closes, jobs are lost, residents' livelihoods are in shambles, and hope is replaced with a lack of ambition, as in the case of the story's narrator. The mine's closure marks his downward spiral toward mediocrity. He lacks ambition and is content with that until a scientific interest rises concerning the old mine, hinting at job prospects. Nevertheless, it still takes a man with less intelligence and his wife's prodding to apply for a position. This also serves as a pivotal moment in his relationship with his wife. It opens his eyes, making him realize she has been having an affair, and everything falls into place.
Robin M. Buehler is a journalist in New Jersey. She has had poetry, fiction, book reviews and photography published in places including Sabledrake, Gothic Revue, Dark Walls, Ancient Heart, Poetry Stop, Poetic Voices, Canadian Zen Haiku, ByLine, Sacred Twilight, Sigla Magazine, and Taj Mahal Review. Her short story, "Weekend at Pocono Manor," will also soon be released in the anthology No Longer Dreams, released by Lite Circle Books.