Reviewed by Piet Bach
My Movie, by David Pratt, New York, 2012, Chelsea Station Editions, 224 pp.,
ISBN: 978-0-9832851-7-5, $18.00 paper // ISBN: 978-1-4524778-3-1, $9.99 eBook
I recently reviewed David Pratt’s first book for Wilde Oats (see here), so I was more than eager to see what he had to offer us in his second. The contrast between the two could not be greater in terms of content, tone and overall effect. In both, the writing is accomplished and dramatically effective, characters strongly delineated, scenes economically but sharply set. But where his novel had an overall feeling of sunshine, this second volume, which comprises short stories written and published as long ago as the early 1990s, left me feeling thunder clouds had gathered. There are fourteen stories here, ranging from “My Movie”, about an eleven-year-old trying to write a better story for his life, to “The Snow Queen”, an eleven-year-old again but this one hoping to write a better story for someone else’s life. In between we find among his characters a widow teetering on the edge of dementia, a dying man whose dignity is all that sustains him, a night janitor desperate for love, a porn addict overwhelmed by the possibilities of his DVD player, and a pair of American elms still learning about love and endurance after nearly a century of intertwined roots and branches.
Pratt is an accomplished writer, revealing his characters layer by layer as their stories unfold, alert to the details of scene and language that bring a story alive before our minds’ eyes, and it is a real pleasure to read his work. The stories in My Movie are compact and vivid, and with a renewed appreciation for his talents I look forward to reading more of his work in coming years.