FAST WOMEN AND NEON LIGHTS: EIGHTIES-INSPIRED NEON NOIR

fast-womenShort Stack Books
Edited by Michael Pool
November 1, 2016

 

The beautiful thing about nostalgia is that it means different things to different people. Some people feel the waves crashing down on them when they see a certain rerun of a certain show on the Decades Channel, or when Pandora is set to random and plays a song that you haven’t heard since Homecoming. You know the one. The song that was playing when Cindy dumped you. Thanks a lot, Pandora.

For me, it’s New Wave music and classic television. Editor Michael Pool must be on my same wavelength since his wonderful anthology FAST WOMEN AND NEON LIGHTS is dripping with nods to both. Anthologies can be a tricky thing. Each of the nineteen authors in this collection have varied styles and voices, all tied together with the broad instruction of “make the reader think of the 1980’s.” That’s not a whole heck of a lot of instruction, but like the best Creative Writing class, it also lets the author breathe and write to their strengths.

Sarah M. Chen is an author that I have just recently become aware of. Her story BESTIES & BLOW is exactly what I look for in a short story. Fast, funny, and set firmly in a time and place, BESTIES & BLOW is just about perfect. Pia is back in Bel Air on a break from school and her airhead friend Tiffany failed to get the Oingo Boingo tickets like she said she would. Pia’s ex-best friend Amanda is now dating Pia’s ex-boyfriend, and no one can get any good cocaine. It’s a fast and funny story about horrible people trying to get really good cocaine. Chen’s knack for inner-dialog is pure magic. I will absolutely be looking for more of Chen’s work.

Eryk Pruitt is a name that is often mentioned on “Authors to Watch” lists. So needless to say, I was looking forward to reading his entry. IT’S MORNING AGAIN IN LAKE CASTOR does not disappoint. Pruitt uses a mostly unnamed narrator to tell the tale of a beautiful high school student from a factory town who was found dead in a shallow grave. With a slow and deliberate hand, Pruitt tells the tale of Jessi Spangler’s brief life and death. How she wasn’t the good girl everyone thought she was, and what really did happen in that back room with Randy Dix.

These two stories act like mental bookends in my mind. FAST WOMEN AND NEON LIGHTS: EIGHTIES INSPIRED NEON NOIR moves fast and furiously down the dark highway of nostalgia. At times it has an ‘80’s synth soundtrack. Other times, it reads to a band playing on Sunset Blvd. And most often, with a hell of a lot of cocaine.

 

Dan Malmon

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