Monday, January 14, 2008

John Mutford's 2nd Short Story Pick- Mark Antony Jarman's "The Cougar"

(Cross posted at The Book Mine Set)

Mark Jarman was recently recommended to me.

Fortunately I was able to find one of his short stories online: "The Cougar" (and it's about an actual cougar, not Demi Moore or Kylie Minogue).

It took me a few paragraphs to warm to this story. It's filled with sentence fragments alongside run-on sentences, slang words, and pop-culture references. It smacked of someone trying too hard to be cool. Actually, I thought he was trying to be a modern-day Canadian beatnik.

"Then in the woods a sleek cougar nearly takes my head off, but I said ix-nay."

Before long I began to appreciate it. While the voice doesn't come across as belonging to someone I'd necessarily like or have much in common with, it fit the narrator's character. I'm curious about Jarman's other stories-- are they all written in the same sort of voice? If so, the fact that it worked so well this particular time around was but a lucky coincidence. Or are they all written in different voices unique to the particular protagonist? If so, it's impressive that Jarman goes beyond simply using character appropriate vocabulary and makes even style (i.e., sentence fragments) a part of the vernacular. Jarman has piqued my interest in his other stories, for sure.

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