REVIEWED BY KRISTINA MORICONI
In his collection of short stories, Not Quite So Stories, David Atkinson’s characters move through lives that have been built out of a perfect mix of imagination and absurdity. They cross over thresholds through doorways—the wood doors and screen doors of houses and offices and bedrooms. There are elevator doors and car doors, too. These doors are swung open and closed; they are knocked on and smacked and flung. There is constant movement through a reality that often feels unreal, men and women always finding themselves on the other side of situations with improbable and humorous outcomes. These are the kind of characters you might meet in the middle of the night, an odd collection of people that you can only hope will populate your dreams.
Everything in Atkinson’s stories is literally “not quite so.” There are objects that move on their own, defying gravity. There is a screaming dead grandpa and a shag-carpeted incident where there is a gun beside piles of bone chips and goo. There is a cymbal-playing monkey that makes a car go.
In this collection, whatever Atkinson alters becomes a bit more bizarre and intriguing. Each story is more unexpected and memorable than the one before.
In the last story, “Up, Up, and No Way,” readers meet a quirky man named Chuck who can fly—or can he? We all have dreams of flying. Perhaps Chuck has leaped out of one of Atkinson’s more curious dreams and landed on the final pages of this peculiar story. Thankfully, he isn’t alone. This is a book filled with characters that will keep you company, keep you entertained, and keep you turning the page for more.
Kristina Moriconi is a poet and essayist. She is the author of the chapbook, No Such Place (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Her work has appeared most recently in Cobalt Review, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Crab Creek Review, and is forthcoming in december. In 2014, she was named the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Poet Laureate. She lives and teaches now in suburban Philadelphia where she co-founded and now helps to sustain the nonprofit, Men Anpil (Many Hands), working to help educate Haitian students who will ultimately become medical professionals in their country.