Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pewter Badge by Michael Solender

Michael Solender sure has been busy. In addition to running his blog, Not From Around Here, Are You?, which mostly features microfiction, he's a finalist in Jason Duke's Red Hot Writing Contest for his story about a Russian woman working for the Yakuza, Seventy-Two Hours or Less. And he's consistently posting quality flash and microfiction at a slew of places, including ATON, Calliope Nerve, Full of Crow, Six Sentences, etc.

I recently checked out Solender's Pewter Badge, a vignette about a L.A. hit man in Yellow Mama. Our hit man is driving around with a still-warm corpse in the trunk--only his second kill--and the guy's tongue is in a donut box in the passenger seat. He's following the speed limit and staying in his lane like a good citizen when a cop pulls him over. He starts freaking out and the story gets real good.

Solender manages to take classic bit (in this case sweating to indicate a character is nervous) and make it all his own. Here's how he puts it: "Sweat was rolling down the crack of my ass to the already pasty mass of my boxers that bunched up under my jeans." The specificity--and nastiness--of the image really fit the character and situation well. And he does an excellent job drawing in the reader to sympathize with the hit man. By the end of the story, I was rooting for this murderer to get away with it, mainly because he's so nervous and fragile.

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