Maybe Even Wanton by Jeanne Holtzman highlights the grittiness of everyday life and being human.
The collection features fifteen flash fiction pieces in which the reader meets characters of various ages who are all in search of something or someone. Each character is in want of something particular, whether it’s sex, companionship, belonging, love, attention, or simply answers to life’s many questions.
Holtzman uses vivid, sometimes even vulgar imagery to make each piece and its characters come to life. For instance, in “Better than Chocolate,” Holtzman begins the story with the following line: “Teddy laughs like a machine gun.” Because of such descriptions, Teddy is leaping from the page with life the entire story. One of the last lines of “Better than Chocolate” is, “Teddy comes like a baby crying.” While at times the imagery in Maybe Even Wanton made me cringe (including this line), it was exhilarating to see an author play with language with such freshness and fearlessness.
Each story in Maybe Even Wanton has something different to offer the reader. The stories certainly form a cohesive collection, yet each has its own unique characters and journeys. The stories often led me somewhere unexpected, to a place of normally unspoken, never acted on thoughts. In particular, this aspect of the collection stood out to me in “Waiting for Mr. Goodman.” The protagonist Angela works at a dry cleaner and decides to try on a red satin corset and G-string that Mr. Goodman, a regular customer, was coming to pick up that day for his wife. The sexy lingerie gives Angela confidence she usually lacks, and she daydreams of how Mr. Goodman, “a big, tee-shirt-and-jeans kind of guy” will react to her wearing his wife’s lingerie under her clothes. By the time he arrives, she loses the confidence she briefly found, runs to the back to remove the sexy garment, and apologizing to Mr. Goodman, telling him she’ll put a rush on the order. As I was reading, I was sure Mr. Goodman was going to notice her secret wardrobe and destroy her fantasy, however, at the end he takes her hand to soothe her and says, “I’m sure you looked gorgeous.” This story gives me confidence to enter that place of unspoken, never acted on thoughts.
Maybe Even Wanton has something to offer every reader, regardless of age, gender, or sexuality. It offers something to everyone who is waiting for something. In fact, the collection may just answer some of the questions you are in search of.
Maybe Even Wanton
Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014
You can purchase this collection here.