Fjords Reviews

HOME | BOOK REVIEWS | Quality Snacks by Andy Mozina
Quality Snacks by Andy Mozina
Share Button

 

Fjords Review, Quality Snacks by Andy Mozina

Short Story
Quality Snacks
by Andy Mozina

Wayne State University Press, 2014
205 pages
ISBN 978-0-8143-4015-8

 

Andy Mozina's "Quality Snacks” by Gareth Spark
X

About Gareth Spark

Gareth Spark's short fiction and poetry has appeared in Shotgun Honey, Line Zero, Ink, sweat and tears, Out of the Gutter, Line Zero and Deepwater Literary Review, among others. He is the author of the poetry collection "Rain in a dry land" (Mudfog Press, 2008) and is currently working on a novel. He lives in Whitby, Yorkshire.

 

"Quality Snacks" (Wayne State University Press, 2014) is the second collection of Andy Mozina's short stories. His first, "The Women Were Leaving the Men" won the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, and his fiction has appeared in numerous reputable journals.

           "Quality Snacks" is a collection of 15 stories, one should say fables really, the majority of which deal with the disintegration of the masculine ideal and the attempt at redemption, with particular regard towards the crack-up of relationships and the concomitant loss of spiritual value. I guess, for me, this is fiction attempting to replace that value, as in the story that gives the collection its title, where the attempt is to perfect the Doritos recipe to the level of Art -

           “It occurred to me, as I pondered these judgments, that while Americans had overcome the challenges inherent in producing quality snacks, we were not as good at fostering quality human relationships”

           Sometimes the stories veer too far into a kind of faux naïf fabulism, as in "No joy in Santa's village", in which Santa Claus plays baseball against the back drop of Elfish civil unrest-

           “His dugout was filled with elves. Some never moved, some never sat still—whittling a piece of wood into a bat, whittling the bat into baseballs, whittling the baseballs into tiny bats, which were whittled into still tinier baseballs. Some were incontinent, some respired entirely through their pores, like plants. Some rooted for Santa, some cast spells against him."

           The stories I preferred were the quieter ones, the ones filled with a kind of iron, such as "Helmet of Ice", a very short story recounting a son's desire to win the approval of a stentorian, almost mythical, father figure. The tone here is perfect, unsettling, inhabiting a nowhere world that could be anytime, past or future, where hypnotic and unnerving dialogue that is peculiarly timeless, defines the people:

           "Do all sons hate all fathers?" he asked. "I have always thought so, and this is why I must sit quietly for days at a time." Every eye avoided every other eye. "Do you fathers have any hobbies?" He continued. "My favorite is to lie still with a helmet of ice on my head. I find this helps me to master difficult thoughts and feelings."

           The ice helmet, that shuts down difficult thoughts, being the perfect metaphor to describe certain weltanschauungen prevalent in publishing today.

           Mr. Mozina writes a deadpan prose that works best when delineating the angst of disillusioned, disconsolate, self-absorbed, or frantic men; prose leavened by a facetious humor that occasionally wears thin, but only occasionally. There is no denying his talent, and these are accomplished stories expressing an utterly individual spirit, stories, furthermore, by a writer clearly in control of his materials and meticulously constructed. I only wish, somehow, that they weren't quite so painstaking, that they breathed and were a little wilder. That the atmosphere wasn't quite so claustrophobic in these tales of middle-aged middle America and the search for a fantastic ecstasy that has to come from without.

As the author states in "My Non-sexual affair"-

           “Our adventure was singular, and as a result it is something to be cherished.”

           The impetus for change in these people's lives is dependent upon the action of an external agency, be that corporate, canine, in Elvis Presley's bedroom or in a Motor lodge, and it is this essential passivity that, I think, I found so stifling, so icy.

           Mr. Mozina's work is first rate and fans of Carver, Saunders and a certain kind of Marquez-esque fabulist literature will find much to like in this collection.

Archives

And Then by Donald Breckenridge

Dear Everyone by Matt Shears

Magic City Gospel by Ashley M. Jones

Intimacy by Stanley Crawford

Lunch Poems by Deborah Kuan

The Best American Poetry 2016

One with the Tiger by Steven Church

Crosstalk by Connie Willis

The King of White Collar Boxing by David Lawrence

They Were Coming for Him by Berta Vias-Mahou

Verse for the Averse: a Review of Ben Lerner’s The Hatred of Poetry

That Other Me by Maha Gargash

Simone by Eduardo Lalo

Swimming by Karl Luntt

Ghost/ Landscape by Kristina Marie Darling and John Gallaher

Enchantment Lake by Margi Preus

Bad Light by Carlos Castán

Diaboliques by Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly

Staying Alive by Laura Sims

Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo

Fireflies by John Leland

Maze of Blood by Marly Youmans

Tender the Maker by Christina Hutchkins

Little Anodynes by Jon Pineda

Conjuror by Holly Sullivan McClure

Someone's Trying To Find You by Marc Augé

The Four Corners of Palermo by Giuseppe Di Piazza

Now You Have Many Legs to Stand On by Ashley-Elizabeth Best

The Knowledge by Robert Peake

The Darling by Lorraine M. López

How To Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes

Watershed Days: Adventures (A Little Thorny and Familiar) in the Home Range by Thorpe Moeckel

[INSERT] BOY by Danez Smith

Demigods on Speedway by Aurelie Sheehan

Find Me by Laura Van Den Berg

Singing Bones by Kate Schmitt

Knuckleball by Tom Pitts

Wandering Time by Luis Alberto Urrea

Teaching a Man to Unstick His Tail by Ralph Hamilton

Domenica Martinello: The Abject in the Interzones

Control Bird Alt Delete by Alexandria Peary

Twelve Clocks by Julie Sophia Paegle

Love You To a Pulp by C.S. DeWildt

Even Though I Don’t Miss You by Chelsea Martin

Women by Chloe Caldwell

Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis

ESSAY 2:12 A.M. by Kat Meads

Revising The Storm by Geffrey Davis

Quality Snacks by Andy Mozina

Midnight in Siberia by David Greene

Strings Attached by Diane Decillis

Down from the Mountaintop: From Belief to Belonging by Joshua Dolezal

The New Testament by Jericho Brown

You Don't Know Me by James Nolan

Phoning Home: Essays by Jacob M. Appel

Words We Might One Day Say by Holly Karapetkova

Murder by Danielle Collobert

Sorrow by Catherine Gammon

The Americans by David Roderick

Put Your Hands In by Chris Hosea

I Think I Am in Friends-Love With You by Yumi Sakugawa

Third Wife by Jiri Klobouk

box of blue horses by Lisa Graley

Review of Hilary Plum’s They Dragged Them Through the Streets

The Sleep of Reason by Morri Creech

The Hush before the Animals Attack by Carol Matos

Regina Derieva, In Memoriam by Frederick Smock

Review of The House Began to Pitch by Kelly Whiddon

Hill William by Scott McClanahan

Seamus Heaney Aloft

The Bounteous World by Frederick Smock

American Neolithic by Terence Hawkins

Review of The Tide King by Jen Michalski

Going Down by Chris Campanioni

Review of Empire in the Shade of a Grass Blade by Rob Cook

Review of The Day Judge Spencer Learned the Power of Metaphor

Review of The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish

Review of Life Cycle Poems by Dena Rash Guzman

Review of Saint X by Kirk Nesset

Review of Jessica Treadway's Please Come Back to Me

Eve Asks by Christine Redman-Waldeyer