Pulp and Paper

  • Review
By – December 14, 2011
The sense of place is pri­ma­ry in Pulp and Paper, Josh Rolnick’s ster­ling debut col­lec­tion of sto­ries. Char­ac­ters are deeply set with­in their com­mu­ni­ties. In Main­lan­ders,” teen-age islanders Tub­by and Thomas strug­gle to impress a cou­ple of young beau­ties from the main­land. The Jer­sey shore is pow­er­ful­ly evoked: mus­sel beds, dried black sea­weed, land eels, weak­fish stew. The dia­logue is pitch-per­fect and hilar­i­ous. In Big Lake,” a high school boy blames him­self for the death of a beloved teacher who fell through the ice on a local lake and drowned. Snow­mo­biles, ice-fish­ing shanties, moose sight­ing, and walleyes are among the sig­ni­fiers. In the beau­ti­ful­ly wrought title sto­ry, Pulp and Paper,” an aging widow’s life inter­sects with a neighbor’s after a train derail­ment results in a trag­ic spill at a near­by plant. An elder­ly carousel oper­a­tor recalls the bygone world of Coney Island in Carousel”: grand char­i­ots, the brass ring, the carved wood­en mer­maids. Through­out, the lan­guage is rich and evoca­tive, the point of view deeply compassionate. 
Judith Felsen­feld book of short fic­tion, Blaustein’s Kiss, was pub­lished in April, 2014. Her sto­ries have appeared in numer­ous mag­a­zines and lit­er­ary reviews, includ­ing The Chica­go Review, The South­west Review, Blue Mesa, and broad­cast nation­wide on NPR’s Select­ed Shorts.

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