Reviews, Vol. 3.4, Dec. 2009
Artwork by Cooper Renner
Bannock Street Books, 2009
Review by Cynthia Reeser
With illustrations by the multi-talented Cooper Renner and flash fiction from the effervescent Meg Pokrass, Lost and Found draws the reader instantly into its world. Each work in the collection was previously published in elimae, the online journal that was edited, until recently, by Cooper Renner. From the opening piece, “Junior Mints,” to the closing title piece, the chapbook is a lovely marriage of text and image.
One of my favorite aspects of Pokrass’ work is her ability to so deftly characterize her pieces. This collection does not disappoint in that regard. Much of the time, that characterization comes across in the subtle dynamics captured within the context of relationships, whether it is between a man and a woman, like in “Dessert” and “Viking,” or between two friends, like in “Foreign Accent Syndrome,” a happy-go-lucky piece that is relentlessly entertaining:
Everyone knew the head injury from the car accident nearly killed her. She’d been thrown—they found her nearby. There was a name for what she had. She said the neurologist explained it so well, Foreign Accent Syndrome. Most people thought she was a bitch as soon as she said hello.
In every story, there is something lovely, quirky, or funny; usually, all three of those elements simultaneously work together to create an effect that is resonant of this author’s work in particular. Her stories often capture what has the sensibilities of an adolescent voice, like in “Liberty,” where the mother-daughter dynamic echoes (indirectly) the young female voice Mona Simpson crafts in Anywhere but Here and The Lost Father.
As a sort of bonus, the final page of the chapbook is a brief statement from the author on her approach to writing. She notes, “[s]tructurally, my writing often derives its strength from odd somewhat random images pieced together like an emotional puzzle” and “[m]y plots are not standard in any way: they are internal and psychological.” She also equates her writing to a “collage of imaginary moments.” Her writing is all of these things, which combine to form a resonant whole—something that is as viscerally affecting as the most convincing theatre performance. In fact, her title work, “Lost and Found,” is a primary example of this collage of images and moments. Comprised of eleven parts that are as variously titled as “rat,” “ring tone,” “benadryl,” “list,” and “found memory,” the overall effect is not something that could be said to be unifying, or even cohesive. However, it is an effect of the author’s work that each moment, no matter how disparate or tiny, stays in the mind long afterward.