Friday, 15 February 2019
JOEL MOWDY - FLOYD HARBOR STORIES (2019)
"Stories of desire and loss, crime and trouble, play out among the abandoned docks and potato barns of what had once been a quiet community. . . . The part of eastern Long Island portrayed here is Joel Mowdy’s Yoknapatawpha—he knows it and makes us want to know it.”—Zachary Lazar, author of Vengeance
The twelve linked stories in Joel Mowdy's first book take place in and around Mastic Beach, a community on New York's Long Island that's close to the wealthy Hamptons but long afflicted by widespread poverty. Mostly in their teens and early twenties, the characters struggle to become independent in various ways, ranging from taking typical low-paying jobs—hotel laundry, janitorial, restaurant, and landscaping work—to highly ingenious schemes, to exchanging sexual favors for a place to stay. A few make it to local community colleges; others end up in rehab or juvenile detention centers. However loving, their parents can offer little help. Those who are Vietnam veterans may suffer from PTSD; others from the addictions that often come with stressful lives.
Neighborhoods of small bungalows—formerly vacation homes—with dilapidated boats in the driveways hint at the waterways that open up close by. The beauty of the ocean beach offers further consolation, as does the often high-spirited temperament of youth. Joel Mowdy brings to his affecting collection both personal experience and a gift for discerning and lingering on the essential moments in his characters' stories. He intimately and vividly illuminates American lives that too seldom see the light.
A decent enough collection of short stories, but in truth one which probably won't live too long in the memory. None of the tales were especially stunning for me - no shock and awe registered with this reader. Nothing grated either. I kind of hoped for more though.
Maybe, I'm an inattentive reader, but I expected a bit more connectivity and crossover with events and people than I actually felt there was between these twelve tales. Some events and a couple of the people did register across the stories and I did enjoy the mattress tag-switching scam and the involvement of the disabled guy in the scheme.
Nothing to hate, nothing to love. Just a mild sense of disappointment overall. Maybe not disappointment - more indifference.
3 from 5
Floyd Harbor Stories is I think Joel Mowdy's debut collection.
Read in February, 2019
Published - 2019 - due out in May
Page count - 252
Source - Edelweiss Above the Treeline early reviewer site.
Format - ePub read on laptop