Hector and Paris. Dmitri, Ivan, and Alyosha. And, yes: Atticus and Jack.
We’re featuring brothers this week, so let me go ahead and apologize if your comics come up missing and our pages smell like gym socks. And stop touching me.
The protagonist in Shya Scanlon’s “The Most Natural Thing In the World” happens to be named “Shya,” either by bizarre coincidence, or in the same way Marcel Proust named his famed madeleine-eater “Marcel”: in a mostly autobiographical way, but the character Marcel stayed the character Marcel until the end, when he became the artist Marcel, capable of writing the seven volumes involving the character Marcel, who really turned out to be the artist Marcel all along. Kind of. As far as Shya’s concerned, I’m assuming the latter, and artist-Shya (not to be confused with character-Shya) drives a stealthy dirt-bike straight through young adulthood, zooming through fear, fearlessness, anger, love, and confusion, but not quite missing them. There aren’t always reasons for things, and this is the only thing he’s sure of. Shya’s little brother Connor and Shya’s friends create a panorama that artist-Shya pedals through at a frenetic pace—a teenage boy pace—and lets us sit on the back if we hold on and don’t slow him down. It’s the stopping, the reflection, that feel impossible. For artist-Shya to represent all this in words is the writing equivalent of a BMX elephant glide.
Martha Williams is at her sharp and brilliant best in “Breathe In.” The moment in this flash—sister comforting brother while plotting his selfish ex-lover’s collapse—intrigues me; I can’t think of another story that covers this territory. And the collapse—oh, yes, it will happen—will either be on the floor with the scraps, or in the sister’s arms, because the narrator here is deeply aware that anger can be so potent that it’s sexualized, and that sexualization can mean domination, and that domination can ease the sting of—anyone’s—rejection. What’s especially dazzling is that the character seeking to avenge a wrong is a woman—a tough woman—a spin on the plot of medieval poetry.
Our own poetry editor Michael Meyerhofer donated “No Young Man’s Craft” to the Atticus Review cause this week, and, oh God! In one swift move, this poem dishevels any ideas floating around out there that we’re a pretentious bunch—seriously. It’s Michael’s fierce combination of sophistication, restraint, playfulness, self-deprecation, spirituality, and toilet humor that reminded me (as if I needed this reminder) why he’s such a great match for Atticus Review, the good-humored rough bunch we are.
And, yeah, look: I haven’t said anything until now, but I know you’ve been checking out my Buck Rogers trading cards. I’m checking pockets at the door, and I’ll totally tell Mom if there’s a single bend on Wilma Deering’s spandex.
Photo Source:PSA Card