The Reviewed: Tenderoni (forthcoming), a collection of flash fiction by Kathy Fish
The Reviewer: Sam Rasnake
One of the gifts of narrative is in creating worlds for readers to enter and spend time in. Good books of short fiction and flash offer readers many points of discovery and connection. Kathy Fish, a writer whose works have been published in journals such as The Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, New South, and Mississippi Review online, is the author of Tenderoni (Cow Heavy Books, 2011), a new collection of works filled with the tangible and familiar, but with a twist of the extraordinary. These stories possess a clear and believable voice that is at home in the company of Lydia Davis, Russell Edson, Kim Chinquee. Fish breathes life to the page, so much so, the characters and actions stay with the reader long after the book is closed.
The stories in Tenderoni have a rhythm that is constantly moving toward release, a physical act or motion that breaks out of almost every piece – bicycles, cameras, candles, a thrown vase, a dead kitten tossed into weeds, a simple nod, the view in a mirror. This method of closing the works in an active way enlarges not only the individual stories but establishes connections of theme, character, and image. These are real people, living in and, most importantly, moving through a recognizable world. Fish’s use of imagery in the collection is commanding and effective. Her writing is direct, constructing scenes in a very filmic way.
In terms of form and pacing, this collection delivers. There’s not a dull moment, not a misstep. The writing is always sharp, multilayered, and accessible – from “Rodney and Chelsea” to “Foreign Film” to “Moro” to “Breathless”. Transitions are seamless. With the title story, Fish stuns the reader by showing such a detailed and staggering scene that is made all the more powerful by what remains unsaid. “Tenderoni” is a gauntlet of funny and terrible and frightening, but Fish never overwrites. That is her true gift.
The book is filled with so many strange and amazing moments the reader cannot avoid becoming a part of the lives and choices and passions discovered in it. This can only happen when the writing is of the highest quality and a true pleasure to read. “Highest quality” is the perfect descriptive for Tenderoni – a collection that should not be missed.
Sam Rasnake’s work has appeared in OCHO, Shampoo, BLIP (formerly Mississippi Review online), Six Sentences, Poets / Artists, MiPOesias, Istanbul Literary Review, FRiGG, and BluePrint Review, as well as the anthologies Best of the Web 2009 (Dzanc Books), Dogzplot Flash Fiction 2011, and BOXCAR Poetry Review Anthology 2. His latest collections are Lessons in Morphology (GOSS183) and Inside a Broken Clock (Finishing Line Press).