Reviewed by Stasia Olashaya-Grill
SHALE: Extreme Fiction for Extreme Conditions edited by Susan Smith Nash, Nathan Leslie, Valerie Fox, and Arlene Ang
Paperback: 158 Pages
Publisher: Texture Press (2015)
Available for $12.00 on Amazon Kindle
Per the definition of the word ‘shale’ included from Geology.com, Shale contains a gambit of stories within its pages, bound only by the its covers. Every story is short and easily stands alone. Quixotic wanderings may lead to a horror piece which may be a hop, skip, and a jump away from tragedy or dark humor.
As a flash fiction collection, Shale allows readers to come and go at their own pace. The extremeness of these pieces comes not from some sort of BMX spectacle but rather from the self-contained world of each story. A particular stand-out piece is a piece by Marilu Beas called “House of the Balustrades” (originally: “El Jardin de los Vampiros”) brings in a supernatural element. In addition, “House of Balustrades” adds that certain something that translated pieces have; something Other and different, something whose ending you cannot guess but can only read about.
Overall, Shale is a solid collection. Some pieces are more gripping than others. But as shale is fissile and laminated layers, so too is this aptly named collection. Every layer offers something different yet familiar in its theme: Something existing in a place more than ordinary.
The primary vision of Texture Press is to increase international cultural literacy through literature and education. Texture (the magazine) had a run of 5 issues. tP publications include chapbooks, monographs, and full-length collections of poetry, plays, short fiction, and essays.
tP began publishing chapbooks, broadsides, and photography in 1989. Many are now in the small press and special collections of universities, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Brown University, Stanford University, SUNY-Buffalo, University of Connecticut-Storrs, Harry Ransom Library (University of Texas-Austin), and Ohio University.
Visit www.texturepress.org for more information.