Eric Andrew Newman at Necessary Fiction has reviewed Matt Tompkins’s Souvenirs and Other Stories (Conium Press, 2016).
He notes “In his book Souvenirs and Other Stories, Matt Tompkins is able to bring magic to the mundane . . . ” and he says the stories “all pack a narrative punch.” The reviewer goes on to compare Matt’s style to that of George Saunders and Manuel Gonzales.
Eric closes the review by saying “While every narrative in Souvenirs and Other Stories seems fairly simple on the surface, they ultimately have multiple layers and grapple with more complex issues than those seen at first glance. Not only do the stories wrestle with loss, but also companionship, family, reality, and sanity. Each of the stories deals with the kernel of a bigger issue, but never in a heavy-handed and always in an entertaining way.” Read the full review at Necessary Fiction‘s website.
Three Ways of the Saw
Written by Matt Mullins
Atticus Books, 2012
You know things are going to take a bad turn when a co-worker arrives at the company picnic with a pair of ATVs in tow. Three Ways of the Saw
is, after all, a collection of short fiction in which nothing ever goes right for any of its protagonists. In the story in question, tellingly titled “The Braid,” all is going a little too
well for a pair of would-be young lovers when the ATVs arrive like the second coming of Chekhov’s gun.
The carnage that ensues is gruesome and gut wrenching, but it also serves a larger purpose. Where a lesser writer might simply offer gore for the sake of gore, author Matt Mullins uses the opportunity to comment subtly and even sensitively upon the nature of adult relationships. Such relationships can be wonderful, he insists on every page of this collection, so full of potential, but also terrifyingly fragile.
For the most part, the stories in Three Ways of the Saw
offer up characters who run the gamut from being adrift to circling the drain. There’s the boy who struggles with questions about his own sexuality in one story and watches his parents’ relationship crumble before his eyes on a road trip through the Great American West in another. There’s the creepy voyeur who trades places with his dog in order to get to know his shapely new neighbor. There’s the girl dreading the arrival of her first period as she reluctantly embarks upon a canoe trip led by an officious priest.
There are drunks, stoners, thieves, and ne’er-do-wells lurking in every corner of this collection, yet for all of the dead-ends they encounter, Mullins always offers his characters as well as his readers a ray of hope. We are, according to Three Ways of the Saw, a curious species—one wracked with all manner of pain, but also one capable of enduring it.