Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Bloodsport" & "Catch and Release"

After reading about Michigan author and funeral director Thomas Lynch’s current book “Apparition & Late Fictions” in last Sunday’s Detroit Free Press, I couldn’t help but recall the strong imagery from two stories in this collection. The first story “Bloodsport,” I had read in the 2002 Pushcart Prize (Best of the Small Presses). The premise was not lost on me: The main character, Martin, informed of the murder of a young woman at the hands of her husband, had to retrieve the body and start the embalming process just as he had done for her father five years earlier. Lynch writes:

Martin could not get his mind off how mannish the violence was, how hunter-gatherly, how very do-it-yourself, for the son-of-a-bitch to stand on the front deck of their double-wide out in the woods while she loaded the last of her belongings in the car—her boom box and a last armful of hanging things—how he must have carefully leveled the rifle, his eyes narrowing to sight her in. He put the first bullet through her thigh. An easy shot from fifteen yards.

The other story, “Catch and Release,” first appeared in Witness, a literary journal published by Oakland Community College and edited by Peter Stine. (In fact, both stories were first published there.) In this story, the main character, a fly-fishing guide, takes his father’s ashes down a familiar river in a symbolic gesture of “letting go.” Again, Lynch writes:

Danny remembered his father taking him fishing, that first time in the river, when he was a boy, how the water tightened around his body, the thick rubber of the Red Ball waders constricting in the current. It was late March. It was cold and clear and he wondered how his father ever found this place, hours from home, driving in the dark to get to the river at first light.

It’s easy visualizing Danny tossing his father’s ashes to the wind; it’s what he does afterward with the last bit of his father that may shock you. As much as I’d like to tell you the ending, I encourage you to discover that on your own. Whether poetry, essays, or short stories, Lynch’s writing is masterfully done. This latest collection consists of four short stories and a novella. For more information go to: .