Mesogeios by Steve Karas
4 Stars - Highly Recommended by Lavinia
Publisher: WhiskeyPaper Press
Released: August 2016
Reviewed by Lavinia Ludlow
There isn’t a smidgeon of fat in Mesogeois, Steve Karas’ newest collection containing five stories barely forty pages in length. There is never a gluttony of adverbs, run-on sentences, nor introspection that wanders off the side of a cliff. If anything, there were instances when I might have craved some marbling in the meat in order to savor the passages a little longer.
What you do get is an honest introduction to Karas’ succinct and simplistic way with words and his punctual content that never lags on the superfluous. The vignettes fluctuate greatly in perspective and anecdote, and each story contains a narrative voice of its own, set in different timeframes spread across a variety of timelines.
The title story, Mesogeois, explores a thirteen-year- old boy’s first exposure to the female form and the irreparable impact it had on the significant relationships that followed, whether romantic, sexual, or familial. Over the course of his life, he pieces together an understanding of mortality, summarizing his findings in a few poetic closing remarks:
Life is about having health and finding true love. She shrugs. What else can it possibly be about? She dusts her hands off to signal that’s it, that there can’t be anything more. Don’t forget me, she tells you. I could never forget you, you say. It’s the last time you ever see her.
Invisible Strings takes on the bizarre fad of an air guitar championship. A sixteen-year- old Greek boy grapples for glory in hopes of becoming the next YouTube star. Although his lust for the spotlight distracts him from his obligations to his brother and family, his shallow dreams prevent him from getting involved in violent and xenophobic initiatives. His naivety reminds us that although our worlds may be in shambles, we must find strength in our connections, art, and individuality.
Wherever Karas chooses to set his scene, he challenges himself by taking on a range of perspectives and landscapes. From young to old, male to female, foreign countries to transitional backdrops such as airports or airplanes, Karas is a writer who refuses to settle into his comfort zones, and refuses to accept a passive and complacent single point of view in his writing. Highly commendable, and in the literary space, this approach not only fills a gap in the diversity of narrative voices, but he’s also fine-tuned his ability to write from countless angles.
An eclectic short story collection that shouldn’t be overlooked as 2016 comes to a close.
Lavinia Ludlow is a musician and writer dividing time between San Francisco and London. Her debut novel, alt.punk (2011), explored the ragged edge of art, society, and sanity, viciously skewering the politics of rebellion. Her sophomore novel, Single Stroke Seven (2016), explores the lives of independent artists coming of age in perilous economic conditions. Both titles can be purchased through Casperian Books. Her short works have been published in Pear Noir!, Curbside Splendor Semi-Annual Journal, and Nailed Magazine, and her indie lit reviews have appeared in Small Press Reviews, The Rumpus, The Collagist, The Nervous Breakdown, Entropy Magazine, and American Book Review.