Jess and I had the privilege of seeing a good friend of ours last night in Russellville, and although the night was completely non-food related (questionable banana pudding stories aside; more on that later), I felt it only right to write a little something about the evening.
Nick Morris, formerly of Glenwood and currently of Colorado, has just published his first collection of short stories, Tapeworm (from Monkey Puzzle Press), and was back in the state to read a few stories at Arkansas Tech, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts and also served as editor of Tech’s excellent literary magazine Nebo. Wanting to both support Nick personally and also support writers and artists with Arkansas ties, Jess and I braved the 5:00 I-40 westbound traffic to attend. As an English Lit major and sporadically published poet, I’ve gone to a lot of these sorts of things over the years, and Nick’s reading would have been one the most enjoyable even had I not known him.
In short: the stories are good.
Nick read two complete stories, along with an excerpt from a third: “The Ringing in Her Ears,” an oddly cheerful tale of a porn model who discovers that amputation is both a cure for what pains her and a way to find great success in the industry; “Arson: A Love Story,” which jumps seamlessly from present to past detailing the narrator’s obsession with a mysterious girl named Deanna and the lengths he’s willing to go to in order to please her; and “Second Coming,” a story about greed, bacon/banana flavored rock god fat, and Zombie Elvis. If that last bit didn’t make you want to pick up the book and read it, I worry for your soul.
There are eleven other stories in the collection, and I’ve been impressed with the obvious skill and attention to detail with which they’ve been crafted. Nick’s language is playful and descriptive, but it doesn’t get in the way of what everybody comes for: the story itself. Hearing some of these tales read aloud made me enjoy them that much more – I’ve always been one to read things out loud to myself in order to hear the language, and these stories hold up well that way, and the audience seemed to enjoy the reading as much as Jess and myself.
Tapeworm is available on Amazon, as well as directly from the publisher, Monkey Puzzle Press. I recommend picking it up if you like good short fiction; not just because Nick’s a friend, but because these stories are as good as any I’ve read, witty and good with that nice country flavor we love so much on Arkansas Foodies. Until next time, happy cooking!