What Are the Chances?
Press 53, 2020
Reviewed by Niles Reddick
Robert Scotellaro’s newest What Are the Chances? is a colorful collection of flash fiction chock full of eccentric characters and experiences. Scotellaro’s writing career and publications are admirable. He has been included in several prestigious collections and literary magazines including W.W. Norton’s Flash Fiction International, NANO Fiction, Gargoyle, New Flash Fiction Review, and Matter Press. He has authored seven literary chapbooks, several books for children, and four full length story collections: Measuring the Distance, What We Know So Far (winner of the 2015 Blue Light Book Award), Bad Motel, and Nothing is Ever One Thing.
Reading this collection is like eating a piled high ice cream cone with all of your favorite toppings. You devour the collection in one sitting and lick every bit of sticky left on your fingers, yearning for more. The collection is beautifully written and expertly crafted.
One of my favorites in the collection is “Worth Tasting”, first published in Flash Boulevard. The story is only two paragraphs, but is packed with philosophical depth, poetic images, and covers the life of an aunt who had been a professional screamer in B-rated movies. Later in old age, she sits on the deck smoking French cigarettes and drinking beer. She flings the beer cans by the base of the tree which offers the image of “a booze tree that had surrendered its fruit.” Scotellaro brings beauty where most would see none.
From “Leaning In” where two seniors strip for each other on SKYPE thousands of miles a part to “Fun House”, where a couple whose kids are away at college install fun house mirrors for some strange visuals during foreplay and sex, Scotellaro discovers the unique and strange in every nook and cranny of his imagination and tosses it out there like a spaghetti noodle on the wall to see if it sticks and is done.
Another favorite that I first read in Airgonaut: A Journal of Short Fiction is titled “Those Eyes in the Rearview”. Here, a character goes on the surprise ride of his life with an Uber driver who pretends to have just killed someone. After a harrowing experience, the driver confesses he’s an actor off to Hollywood soon and is practicing on the poor customer. It’s a practical joke in a way, one of which none of us would want to be a part, but it could happen.
What Are the Chances? exhibits a mastery of the flash fiction craft, and Scotellaro covers all sorts of facets of the human experiences from the raw to the mundane, all done in broad, bold, and colorful strokes that both teaches new writers how it’s done and inspires those of us who do write how to make our craft even better.
To read more about Robert Scotellaro, please see his website