Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"A Box of Delicious Candy" says Laura Stamps

Good news! PARIAH TALES, a new book of short stories by J.P. Lowe has just been published by Onzo Imprints. Lowe is an incredibly imaginative, talented short-story writer, and PARIAH TALES is his third book.

What can I say? Reading one of Lowe's collections is like opening a box of delicious candy, each piece exquisite, unique, and a pure delight. PARIAH TALES is no exception. This 76-page book contains 10 short stories, many of which have previously appeared in literary magazines around the world, including Barbaric Yawp, Big Toe Review, Hob-Nob, Pens on Fire, Pulp & Dagger Fiction, Gold Dust Magazine, Internet Fiction, and Open Wide.

Very impressive. But what can readers and fans expect from PARIAH TALES? "The title says what it is, and what it's about," says Lowe. "The collection is centered around the notion of being alone, either by choice or by circumstance. Something we can all relate to at one time or another in our lives. The stories are filled with characters who find themselves set apart for various reasons. Some stories are humorous, while others are more serious, but all share this common concept."

Onzo Imprints has published PARIAH TALES in a small, signed, collector's edition. If you are interested in owning a copy, send a check or money order for $3.00 made payable to: J.P. Lowe. Mail to J.P. Lowe, P.O. Box 39, Addison, IL 60101, USA (free shipping in the USA). For more information go to http://www.pariahtales.blogspot.com/ or email pariahtales@yahoo.com.


Review by Laura Stamps (c)


"Green Tea" a short story by Jack Phillips Lowe:

I offered her some Prozac.

“I don’t want any!” she said, all pissy-like. At first, I liked this college girl’s attitude and fancy talk. It was fun—like a little girl telling her big brother what she learned in school that day. But after a while, she decided to “educate” me, make me see “the other side of things,” and her talk started feeling like sand in my crack.

“I don’t have any,” I said, “but if I did, I’d give it to you. You’re f*cking nuts.”

“Why, just because I don’t want to be famous?” She did that “blazing” thing with her eyes that always made me horny.

“Exactly. Every real American wants to be a star.” I poured cream in my coffee. “Stars coast through life on clouds. Do I have to list the perks?”

She picked at her raisin toast. “No, I realize that there are ‘perks.’ But there are also dues. You pay them after you die.” She was weird that way. Pick, pick. I never saw her just eat anything.

“Okay by me. Famous guys get the cash and the babes. What else matters?” I sipped my coffee. The damned cream was sour.

She put her chin on her palm and gave me her “silly boy” look. “Mimmo, try to think of it this way. Before your body hits the morgue, the tabloids hit the stores—chock full of stories about what a bastard you were.”

I hated her “silly boy” look. “Big whip. Unless St. Peter subscribes, I’ll never see them.” Brat. That showed her, I thought.

“Later come the hagiographies—”

I couldn’t even say it, so I just looked at her.

“—or books about saints. Tributes written by your mailman and your pool girl, who signed million-dollar contracts based on the grand total of ten minutes you spent with them. Of course, they never shared those compliments with you. You were a pampered star, and didn’t need them.”

Sometimes, if I just let her blab, she’d blab herself out. She was a hottie, but she had mouth trouble. So I tucked into my waffles. They were good, but I knew I was screwing myself. I was one chin away from being a blimp, and I had to be careful. Fat guys slept alone.

“You get planted in some ritzy bone yard.” She took a drink of her tea. “Your spouse takes your cash and the 21-year old gardener and goes to live in luxury on the tropical island getaway you sweated to pay for.” It was green tea. She actually drank that shit.

“Wait. When you say ‘you,’ you mean me, right?” I asked.

She gave me the eye-roll and heavy sigh combo. “You’re forced to become a tourist attraction. Your tombstone poses for pictures with Bob and Fran from Peoria, who pay their respects by showering your grave with a cheap beer you wouldn’t have touched.”

I grabbed a few packets of sugar and looked at the little pictures printed on them. “Whew! Sounds like somebody’s car stalled at the corner of Bitch and Whine today!”

“A few years pass, and serious scholars reappraise your career in books published by universities. They dissect your body of work—symbolically your body—only to agree that the tabloids were right. You really were a bastard.”

I scratched the stubble on my jaw. “Wave a flag when you get to the point.” It sucked. I shaved every morning, and by eleven or so, I was all stubbly again.

“Mimmo, that was the point! What do we have beyond our identities? What do we leave behind besides memories? Dead celebrities are robbed of these and become public scapegoats. Truth is seasonal, but lies can last forever. Give me privacy any day.”

I wiped syrup off my mouth. “Sweetie, like a wise man once said, it’s better to hump supermodels today than to worry about how the shit falls when you’re gone. No matter. You and it will both be fertilizing the lawn.”

She grabbed her tea, threw it in my face, and stomped
out. We broke up two days later. That’s how I remembered she
drank green tea.


© 2007 J.P. Lowe

[If you enjoyed "Green Tea", there are 9 other stories like it in PARIAH TALES!]