TQR Confidential

Friday, July 22, 2016

Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz's chapbook reviewed

Straight, the protagonist of WHERE I’LL BE IF I’M NOT THERE, (the title story of Ms. Mintz’s chapbook) has some ‘splainin’ to do: To his lady love, his young daughter and, most importantly, to himself. The crime that got him 3-years incarceration is beside the point, and never specified. The story is about how Straight will react to once more having to navigate the treacherous straits of freedom.

Author Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz writes from a black working-class perspective. The details of many of her stories make one hope that she has at least made up some of the more lurid plot points, seeing as how they involve underage prostitution, incest and murder. Close to half of the stories are inhabited by protagonists who are growing up in fatherless homes, a reality that has plagued the black community for decades. The story where the father is still around is tempered by the fact he is not exactly the father figure you’d typically want him to be: Daddy beat Mr. Bailey dead but didn’t nobody know but me. An excellent example of a killer first line, by the way.

The characters speak a dialect of American English most commonly used by the poorer classes of black Americans. It’s very well done and grounds the reader in Ms. Mintz’s intended milieu. The stories in this chapbook also take some interesting detours from the standard form. THE STORY OF MY LIFE (SO FAR) is broken up in sections diagramming the pertinent parts of a story, such as setting, the characters, plot development, etc. in order to tell the unified story of a girl dealing with the incestuous proclivities of her step father; HUSH CHILD SHHH a moving account of an actual news story about the forgotten slave cemetery beneath the foundations of an old building that was discovered when the building was demolished and the subsequent reburial with due honor of all the bones that were found. The commentary by the ghost of the long-suffering mother speaking to her child interspersed in the factual accounts of the news story makes this a compelling and powerfully cathartic story.

The best of these stories transcends any notion of black and/or white America, instead focusing through the universal lens of hope. The best example of this being the aforementioned title story: WHERE I’LL BE IF I’M NOT THERE. Interestingly, the moment of truth in this story is precipitated by what can rightly be called a father figure. His boss, Mr. Gilbert, leaves the cash drawer in the bakery for Straight to open up with in the morning while he is away.

Mr. Gilbert had added instructions on how to run the register. The paper trembled in Straight’s hand.

Will Straight do the right thing, or take the money and run? This time, his name is true. And Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz, at her best, finds the hope and softness in a world of sorrow and hard edges.


Saturday, July 16, 2016


TQR: Good morning,

I hope your summer is going well. Believe or not, we're opening our 13th year on the Floor tomorrow. Or maybe we should skip that floor and go directly to 14 like they do in the hotel biz. I'll be opening up the door either tonight or early tomorrow. Thank you both for sticking around and making it fun to keep going. We'll see if we have any cap at all this quarter.

DEPLANCHER: Bonjour! I am here in PEI living in a tent and relying on public networks...will do me best...

Sent while levitating from my own Bright Cloud.

BOLIGARD: You're on Prince Edward Island.

Good christ, girl, You are the coolest. Someday we'll meet, but I'm scared. I mean, shit, you are too fucking cool for school. Damn.

So let's add each other, DeP and Rorschalk, on Facebook. What the hell. Look up Femme Futile and you've found me. I hardly ever get on the site, but'd be nice to friend each other.

God, I hope I get through this 13th. Trying to come up with a theme, but Boligard, I feel, has become quite the blowhard. Is that a word?

TQR:Femme Futile? That is quite funny. Man. I just can't get myself to facebook. I agree about Prince Edward Island. That is some cool shizzle. Sorry about not have the Floor up already. I'm just so fucking upset about Nice, France. Just really fucking bummed and pissed and feeling worthless. Anyhow. Don't worry about blowing hard. Some people like it that way. Good news, we've got some subs. I'll hand them out at least. Laterz!

[One day later]

Report: Quarter started with extended phone conversation from B. Doomey. Something about the SALTON SEA. Must check it out on my AMAZON FIRE STICK. Anywho. Gustavo from Argentina didn't touch the monkey. Two cap still in Dep and Doomey's capable hands. I will tweet for more shortly. The center cannot hold.

DEPLANCHER: Bonjour from the willow trees next to the red sand man over the cliffs of the stinky cormorant nests. Help. My hair is tangled in a mussel shelf...

Last night I read the one cap sent in very poor light of evening twilight with some help from my cat's eyes (yes, she is camping with us too). I like it, but near the end it lead me full speed into a wall without a ramp from which to launch my escape. Broke my crooked line of disbelief et al.

Oh well.

I am not actually very cool.

Tourist centre closes soon so probably not much post onsite today.

Hmmmm, Facebook. I am not on it. My dog was but she has now passed. If I begin, I will find you, Loosey, bien sur.