Saturday, May 3, 2008

HOBART/Andrew Bomback/Donald Capone/Flash Fiction Review

Nominating Editor: Aaron Burch

HOBART is a literary journal that started online, grew into print, and now has a presence in both, each of which has grown (largely independent of the other) over the last six or seven years in fits and spurts. At some point we adopted the some-have-said too-self-deprecating subtitle: "another literary journal" because, really, there is a good number of us (lit journals) and we are all largely trying to do the same thing, I think. Also, we (Hobart) are generally self-deprecating. I'm never very good at describing or explaining the journal but readers and reviewers usually say things like "humorous but engaging" and "literary but not stuffy" and I like both of those. I think I/we tend to lean toward stories that are entertaining and interesting as readers first, and everything else comes after that.

At some point in the last couple of years, Claudia Smith, Savannah Schroll-Guz, and Jensen Whelan took over the reigns of the website as Web Editors (along with Matthew Simmons as Interviews Editor and Sean Carman as Photo Editor, though Ryan Molloy has recently taken over for him and other changes are in the process) and the website has become much better because of them.

I thought I would start with something from the most recent issue of Hobart because, well, because it is most recent. But also because that means I got to choose something from our annual baseball issue, which is our only real "special issue" every year and one of my favorites, and has become the one web issue that I still edit after having handed just about everything else over to the web editors.

I could have easily chosen any of the stories from the baseball issue, but I thought I'd highlight Bomback's because I think it is a great example of what I so often love in a story. Actually, a year or two ago, Kelly Spitzer did a round of people spotlighting stories from around the web and I chose a story from Agni online and said about it: "The story reads a little like a humor piece... and, like the best humor pieces, a story unfolds through the pieces and the whole adds up to more than a sum of its pieces." I think that last bit is one of my favorite cliches to say about stories but, of course, true, and the same quote could be used for Bomback's story. It is written like a letter to a newspaper and is about baseball but also ends up painting a pretty great picture of this guy writing the letter, his relationship to baseball and his wife and there are some great both humorous and real moments.

Nominated Flash Fiction: "I've Got Dreams to Remember" - Andrew Bomback

Review: by Donald Capone

A baseball fan has plenty of dreams—especially in April. Both dreams of what can be, and memories of past glory. Set up effectively as a letter to the editor of a baseball magazine, "I've Got Dreams to Remember" by Andrew Bomback reveals as much about the hopes of the Mets fan who pens the letter (he calls himself "A Believer"), as it does about how intricately baseball itself is woven into the man's life (and in fact, the life of any die-hard fan). As a die-hard fan myself (Yankees), I can relate to this.

Historic baseball moments are markers in our lives, both good and bad. "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" in baseball terms may be, "Where were you when the ball rolled through Buckner's legs?" Another marker, for me, is the time Mike Mussina took a perfect game two outs into the ninth inning on the night of my friend's wedding. So Bomback's fan is wanting more than wins and losses, more than first place versus second place in the magazine's preview issue. What he wants are more markers to define this upcoming year of his life.

The fan begins his letter in a straightforward manner, with the man arguing against the magazine's choice of the Phillies over the Mets for the NL East championship. His points are valid; after all the Mets finish the season at home, while the Phils face a brutal West Coast swing. He then follows this with his own predictions for the 2008 season, the kind that stray away from the baseball diamond and have him as a player—a player in the game that is his life. He begins to reveal more and more details about himself: His past and current relationship with his wife, with an ex-girlfriend, and even an imagined conversation with the roommate of the ex-girlfriend at the ex's upcoming wedding; then finally with his hopes and plans for the future, both on the field and off.

Eventually, he envisions himself in October, the Mets as World Champions, his relationship with his wife now solid, maybe even with a baby on the way, to be born during the following baseball season:

"I'll put on a coat and take a walk around my quiet suburban block...I'll end up back on my front lawn, which will probably be frozen, and I'll look at my house, and I'll stare at my dark bedroom, where my wife will already be asleep, and I'll be happy. The Mets will have won. And the next morning I'll tell her all about the victory. I'll tell her that I love her. I'll suggest maybe we should try getting pregnant now."

This is the ultimate happiness for him, the prediction he really wants to come true. The letter ends with an enthusiastic "Ya gotta believe!," Tug McGraw's rally cry of the 1973 New York Mets. In baseball, as in life, you got to believe, otherwise, what's the point?

Reviewer's Bio:

Donald Capone’s stories have appeared in Edgar Literary Magazine, Word Riot, Weekly Reader's READ magazine, and Thieves Jargon, as well as the anthologies See You Next Tuesday, Skive Quarterly 6, and Rebellion: New Voices of Fiction, which he also edited, and which was a finalist in the 2006 USA Book News awards. His comic novel, Into the Sunset, is available on Amazon and other places.

Thanks for visiting Five Star Literary Stories and reading about this flash fiction.


Anonymous said...

I am really enjoying reading these three angles of a good story: the editor's take, the story itself, and words from another writer. Brilliant.


yeah, i liked this one a lot. its also interesting if you take into context with what happened to the mets last season. all the same arguments were made last season that the narrator makes this time around, and as a mets fan i'm sure he made them himself. and what happened. the mets collapsed down the stretch, lost the nl east and their self respect. again. very nice.