IF I HAD THE WINGS

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Debut Fiction - JEFF FLEIS­CHER

He­len Klonaris, Peepal Tree Press (AU­GUST), Soft­cover $17.95 (160pp), 978-1-84523-346-4 Klonaris uses mem­ory and di­a­logue as valu­able tools to con­vey her sto­ries, in­tro­duc­ing a com­pelling voice to short fic­tion. The char­ac­ters in He­len Klonaris’s If I Had Wings grow up in the Greek-ba­hamian neigh­bor­hoods of the Ba­hamas, a back­ground they share with the author. Sev­eral of them, also like the author, are LGBTQ in a fairly con­ser­va­tive cul­ture and strug­gle with their iden­ti­ties. These eight sto­ries touch on that de­mo­graphic blend in in­ter­est­ing ways, while also speak­ing to univer­sal truths.

Mem­ory and di­a­logue are valu­able tools within the sto­ries, many of which are writ­ten from the point of view of a child, per­haps most ef­fec­tively “Cow­boy.” The ti­tle refers to Mr. Lebre­ton, whom the nar­ra­tor’s fa­ther hires for yard and gar­den work, and whose un­spo­ken back­story the nar­ra­tor finds fas­ci­nat­ing. Soon he also be­comes an ob­ject of in­ter­est for tourists who want to take photos of the would-be cow­boy in ac­tion scenes they set up. These ses­sions are ex­ploita­tive and trou­ble the nar­ra­tor, trig­ger­ing other un­com­fort­able out­comes.

More dis­turb­ing is the ti­tle story, about a young girl who is the last of her sis­ters still liv­ing with her fa­ther. She tells her­self an eerie story about a bull chas­ing a lit­tle girl, searches for an in­vis­i­ble dog her fa­ther has locked away, and uses these thoughts to ob­scure the un­set­tling re­al­ity of why her sis­ters have left.

The most am­bi­tious story is the fi­nale, “The Dream­ers,” in which a young boy does in fact have wings—feath­ered wings that he grows un­ex­pect­edly. The story is told from a va­ri­ety of per­spec­tives, in­clud­ing those of the af­flicted boy, his mother, his sup­port­ive sis­ter, his lover, and the col­lec­tive crowd of peo­ple drawn to find out more about the un­usual wings. Each char­ac­ter’s self-de­fined mo­ti­va­tions, as well as how oth­ers see them, are probed.

If I Had the Wings in­tro­duces a com­pelling voice to short fic­tion.

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