This is a collection of short stories. Mind and Body by Lucas Carpenter is a book I received from the Library Thing Early Reviewer Program in return for a review. The first three stories possess their own appeal; there is not much of a link to what follows. But starting with PERIMETER look for the linking devices of Stafford College and a character name Rutledge. It will be fun.
A story set in a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp just prior to WWII as the camps were being closed down. With preparations for war and thus full employment, the program was not needed. This camp was located in Georgia. The main theme of the story is the power of music to bring Blacks and Whites together inside the camp in the face of an exterior environment which vigorously enforced separation of races. A look at two specific individual outcomes in this story reveals a very sad outcome for music.
MY MOTHER IN HISTORY
A story of a WWII survivor. “My mother” never appears in the story by name. Her history was one of survival from a Soviet regime so terrible that she welcomed the Nazi forces as liberators. They were a step up, as were the American forces who took over her captivity later. After marrying a US soldier, she moved to the US and lived the life of a wife to a civil servant. She raised her children and in her old age paid for them to Accompany her on a return trip to the Ukraine to look for surviving relatives. From this visit, she could conclude that, yes, you can go home again, but why would you want to? This is a horrifying depiction of what a survivor must do to live.
A nostalgic look at the evolution of liquor laws in Charleston, South Carolina. From the late 1800s to the present, changes in laws relating to the availability of alcohol followed changes in society. This is a very interesting look on the effects alcohol had on societal change and vice versa.
Vietnam War Vet Bullshit story alert. This is a great story. I have never seen the life for those at Long Binh and Bien Hoa, Vietnam expressed so accurately. The life of a REMF exposed. So much for personal notes as to why the story is good. For Rutledge, he knew that his experience in war did not really count. He had never participated in any event that tested his bravery. Without this last, final experience on guard duty, he would never really know the experience of having been to war.
IN THE ARTIST COLONY
To appreciate this story, the reader should know the term “performance art.” The Poet is caught in a dead-end job and a dead-end marriage. After winning a chance to join an artist colony for a month where he might sit, reflect, and write, the poet takes up residence at the colony and begins to evaluate other artists in residence. Maybe there will be poetic prompts. Then he meets Shari Spector. Is she an artist? She claims to be. But the owner and manager of the art colony gives the Poet information to the contrary. The Poet feels betrayed. Shari maintains that she is an artist of reinvention. Readers are left to form their own opinion.
IT COULD HAPPEN THAT WAY
This is about a poet’s rebirth. It could almost be thought of as a poet overcoming writer’s block, but Esther didn’t really have writer’s block. She just didn’t know if she had anything to say until she went to a party and met Melody. Her new-found realizations, developed while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, would probably have to be defended on Monday morning when she returned to work. But she could do that.
BOUNCING OFF AMSTERDAM
As an expatriate, I like to travel alone. I absorb experiences and I don’t feel a responsibility to share or explain new experiences with others. This is a story, and a warning, to and for people like me. Jason is out there, Jason the predator. Trust to third parties should not be conferred lightly.
MIND AND BODY
This is an unconventional tale of the struggle for job security in academia. Or it might be a conventional tale. We again meet Rutledge, of Vietnam War fame, as he more or less defends himself of charges of sexual harassment, the kind of stuff that may or may not occur between professor and student.