Who doesn’t know writer’s block? I loved this poem and how it spun a story out of that misery.
“I don’t know much about poetry,” some people say when faced with critical appraisal of words which trickle down a page instead of marching across it. Simple — does it speak to you or not? “The Statue of a Writer” passed that test. First, I understood it (important to those of us who are not comfortable lost in the forests of someone else’s imagination with no way back); second, it made me laugh; and third, I could relate, so yes, it spoke to me.
Perhaps equally as important for a poem, the words slipped easily through my brain in a joyous rhythmic dance, trailing images like folk dancers’ ribbons. One or two of them are still snagged on the bushes of my imagination.
I’ve always found Bob Eckstein to be the kind of fine, funny writer you can almost always count on to pick you up and twirl you around. He doesn’t let you fall down by getting much too serious way too quickly (i.e. D.P. the poet) but like any good comic artist he delivers the one-two punch with just a tinge of human sadness at the almost but not quite boring folly of the everyday life of a playful mind paying full (fool?) attention to its own inner movie. He’s a friendly writer with a sharpened tooth full of wit and wonder. That’s why the very first story I ever “faved” was Bob’s “Using Mini-Golf as a Metaphor for the Shortcomings in My Love Life.” It made me smile. Simple as that. Lines like, “If she wasn’t sleeping she was dressing or undressing” or a “new proficiency in lying and an increase in salt intake” got me right away. To the gut, so to speak. But there’s some truth-telling to be had as well: “Men are seldom even sure when a serious relationship begins,” or the very funny, “I don’t recall her name, but she was special.” I laugh every time I read that one and I’ve read it a dozen times. That’s what I mean. No let down. Here’s to Bob!
Like all Angi Becker Stevens’ stories, this one made me ache just right. I love the imagination and inventiveness here, the tenderness and yearning. “If” is such a tiny word and a huge idea. Angi Becker Stevens’ use of the tiny and tremendous here is ambitious and layered, and wonderfully successful.
“If Everything is Inevitable” is told with deft, restraint and confidence. So much so that even in a work about time travel (what John Gardner called) “the continuous dream” is never interrupted or called into question.
“I want to ask her all the questions she’s forbidden to answer. I want to ask her which animals will go extinct and if the sky will always be the same color and if she knows how and when we’re going to die. I want to know if everything is inevitable.”
This work is a gift to read and a standard to write by. Brava, Angi.
Fictionaut Faves, a series in which Fictionaut members discuss one story they have faved, is edited by Marcelle Heath, a fiction writer, freelance editor, and assistant editor for Luna Park. She lives in Portland, Oregon.