Review of TOWNIES by Eryk Pruitt

TOWNIES AND OTHER STORIES OF SOUTHERN MISCHIEF Eryk Pruitt

Polis Books

October 16, 2018

 

There are people who write stories and then there are storytellers. There is a skill to creating characters, location, and plot, but storytellers take these to a new level. It’s their turns of phrase and a relatable cast that sets them apart. Eryk Pruitt proves that he is one of these modern-day storytellers in his short story collection TOWNIES AND OTHER STORIES OF SOUTHERN MISCHIEF.

In “The Hoodoo of Sweet Mama Rosa”, a local kid tries to get his lawn mowing business off the ground, but the current retiree that has the corner on the market is standing in the kid’s way. Only the retiree doesn’t know that the kid is gunning for his business. The kid pays for a curse to be placed on the old timer, but he takes things into his own hands when the curse takes too long to take effect.

“Knacker” details a Texan’s adventures one night in Ireland. He knows he’s on his way to an underground fight club, and he’s ready for a fight. He doesn’t remember much about his opponent until he is shown a video of the fight as he recovers from it.  Pruitt works in a brilliant twist end to this story that you need to read for yourself.

My favorite short story in TOWNIES must be “The Joe Flacco Defense”.  A husband becomes obsessed with fantasy football and his wife can’t take it any longer. All things fantasy football consumed his life, so she took his life. But then the guys from his league reach out to him looking for input and trades and other league-type-things. Since she can’t have people find out he’s dead, the wife pretends to be him, and she becomes obsessed with fantasy football herself. The names Pruitt gave to league teams slayed me:  RGIII-PO, Show Me Your TD’s, and They Call Me the Brees.

The characters in all of Pruitt’s short stories are regular, every day people just trying to make their way through the world. There is no pretense to any of Pruitt’s characters. One woman takes a job in an East Texas bar in an attempt escape her past but finds herself running for her life. Another woman just wants to delete the sex video her ex-boyfriend posted online and then things don’t go as planned.

Pruitt includes a few stories he wrote in second person present tense (i.e. “You always loved her arms.”). Most books or short stories are written in first person past tense (“I always loved her arms”) or third person past tense (“He always loved her arms”). In the story “Sixteenth”, a man receives parts of his girlfriend’s body once a month. The unconventional style heightens the tension of this story. You read the story directly from the man’s perspective and you feel his anguish. This is not something every writer can pull off, but Pruitt does it flawlessly.

Eryk Pruitt establishes himself as a master storyteller with TOWNIES. His captivating characters and unique style bring his stories to a different, primal level that makes reading them a joy. Readers that enjoy the stylings of Joe Lansdale will now have another must-read author on their list.

 

Kate Malmon