Review: Hoopty Time Machines by Christopher DeWan

Ihoopty_lower-case_front-196x300t’s no secret that we’re dedicated admirers of Christopher DeWan. (Christofans? DeWanthusiasts?) His clever Robinson Crusoe-Gilligan’s Island mashup, “The Life of Strange and Surprizing Adventure,” washed ashore in our February 2015 issue, and “Godzilla Reading Haiku” trampled our collective hearts back in 2013 and stamped into our most recent print anthology.

So when we were invited to review his flash fiction collection, we were over the moon like a cow on a trampoline. As soon as the slick little number (props to Yevgenia Nayberg for nifty cover design) popped up in our Pine Barrens mail hole, we plunged in with high expectations–and we were not disappointed.

Hoopty Time Machines (Atticus Books) is the literary equivalent of a perfect mix tape. Cover tracks of beloved stories and myths turn the classics upside down and shake shiny new coins out of their pockets. “Goldilocks and the Three Boys” shines in the details, such as how each brother’s name has sly ursine or woodland tones, while “Poseidon’s Net” is funny and sad and plays rough with words like “fishnets.”

There are also some original songs on the playlist. Standouts include the aforementioned tale of daikaiju zen as well as “Voodoo” and “The Trolls,” which depict (from different vantage points) parent-child relationships that may or may not be suffering from supernatural interference. Oh, and the object mentioned in the title track is not what it claims to be. Except, in a painful way, it is.

The speculative elements in these stories are engaging on their own terms, but they never overpower the achingly human desires of their characters. There are doorstop novels out there that fail to achieve the emotional impact DeWan can generate with a single honest, well-crafted sentence: “All we knew was that we were alone again, in the quiet, with nothing but one another” (“The Signal”).

The subtitle of the collection, Fairy Tales for Grown Ups, hints at the wonders and horrors that infuse the stories while effectively framing their audience: Here There Be Monsters, but they are often tangled with the psychological foes one must battle later in life as a weary denizen of the modern world. Treat yo’self to this book of delightmares. And while you’re at it, grab one for a friend.

The official release date is September 22, 2016, but you can pre-order it now!

Our 2013 storySouth Nominees

Let’s get one thing straight. If someone poses the hypothetical question, who would win in a fight, The Kaiju from Pacific Rim, The Jaegers from Pacific Rim, or Godzilla, the answer isn’t Godzilla.

No, the correct answer is, “Godzilla, dumbass.”

Why? Because he’s fucking Godzilla. He’s a mutant lizard born from the side effects of nuclear testing who didn’t have to crawl out of the Marianas Trench to destroy cities or take a hiatus from SAMCRO to kill other monsters. He’s been doing both — and doing them better than anyone — for like sixty years. Plain and simple. He’s Godzilla. He took down a three-headed, lightening-breathing, instellar-travelling King Ghidorah, not to mention the mechanized version of said three-headed creature. He’s defeated Gamorrah, Rhodan, Mothra, King Kong, a giant robot version of King Kong, whatever the hell that Smog Monster thing was, a robotic version of himself, and who knows what the fuck else was lurking around Monster Island when the cameras weren’t rolling. You think he’s gonna sweat some overgrown calamari or Jax Teller in a Transformer suit?

Jesus in Heaven, do we have to explain everything?

Let any further debate be squelched by atomic breath, much like, oh, say, anything or anyone who’s ever tried to go toe to toe with Godzilla.

That’s right: Atomic. Fucking. Breath.

Winner? Still champion? Godzilla.

Now that that’s out of the way…

Jersey Devil Press is proud to announce its editorial nominees for the 2013 storySouth Awards. JDP is pleased to participate in this prestigious competition celebrating the written word as expressed in the online medium. Culling three favorites from our list of 2012 Pushcart nominees, we have selected:

“We Left Him with the Dragging Man,” by Graham Tugwell
“About the Hiding of Buried Treasure,” by Kimberly Lojewski
“Paper Heart,” by Ally Malinenko

In addition to these three stories, all stories published by Jersey Devil Press during the 2012 calendar year (excepting reprints and flash under 1000 words) are eligible for readers to nominate individually. Be sure to check all of storySouth’s guidelines for reader nominations and pencil in your favorite story. Only one vote per person, so choose wisely.

Congratulations to Graham, Kimberly, and Ally.

Thanks to all the writers who trust us with their work.

Thanks to storySouth for keeping this great competition going for another year.

Thanks always to Godzilla, because he rocks.

Godzilla Reading Haiku

Christopher DeWan

“Are you gonna eat those?” He was eying up my pancakes.

“Of course I’m going to eat them. I wouldn’t have ordered them if I wasn’t going to eat them.”

“Oh. I just thought maybe you weren’t going to eat all of them.”

No way was I going to eat all of my pancakes, but no way was I going to share them with him, either. “You want me to get the waitress, so you can order your own pancakes?”

“No, that’s okay. I’m not that hungry.”

The trouble with Godzilla is he’s always hungry. And he breaks things by accident. And he scares people. It’s kind of a drag.

“Here.” I cut my pancakes down the middle. “Take half.”

“You gonna eat that sausage?”

“You wanna come up?” I ask my girlfriend on the stoop.

She nibbles gently at my ear. “Dunno. Is your roommate home?”

My roommate, Godzilla, is home. I play with the button on my girlfriend’s shirt but don’t answer.

“I think I’m just gonna go home,” she says.

The alarm clock goes off and I stumble out of bed toward the bathroom. I pass Godzilla, coming out. “Don’t go in there!” he warns.

And he’s used up all the toilet paper.

“Sorry!”

Sometimes we sit in our apartment in the dark, in the quiet, though it never gets completely dark or completely quiet because Tokyo leaks in through the windows. The lights flicker off the walls, and horns bleat, and sirens, and sometimes through acoustical miracles, conversations carry up from the street to our window. But things feel mostly muted and far away, and it’s relaxing. We enjoy it when we can afford to.

Godzilla has a little plastic lamp clamped to the cover of the book he’s reading.

“‘Summer grasses — all that remains of soldiers’ dreams.’”

“That’s a good one,” I say.

“Sad, right?”

“And not sad, too. Just, you know, true.”

He’s got little Post-It notes sticking out of his favorite pages, and he turns to another: “‘Clouds — a chance to dodge moon-viewing.’”

“Ha,” I laugh.

“Yeah,” he says. “Yeah…”

“Okay, one more.”

He flips pages. “Here’s one.” He clears his big throat. “‘Not one traveler braves this road — autumn night.’”

“Hmm. I don’t know about that one.”

“I like it because it’s quiet,” Godzilla says.

I nod. “I get that,” I tell him.

“What did you do today?” I ask Godzilla as he walks in the door. But he shrugs and looks at me kind of sheepishly and lumbers off to his room, and I decide it’s probably best if I don’t watch the news tonight.

“What’s it like?” I ask him once. “All the killing.” He frowns at me and looks like he wants to spit, and I’m sorry I asked. He absent-mindedly picks up our salt shaker and crushes it and then looks embarrassed.

“It’s not like that,” he finally answers. “The guy who gets off on destruction, on being big and strong and powerful — I’m not that guy.”

“I know you’re not that guy.”

“It’s lonely being a monster.”

“I guess it probably is.”

“I’m glad you’re my friend,” he tells me, and I hug him the best I can with my little arms and his big body, a real hug, tight, so he knows I mean it.

CHRISTOPHER DEWAN has written numerous short stories, recently featured in Apocrypha and Abstractions, Bartleby Snopes, Bewildering Stories, Fractured West, In Between Altered States, MicroHorror, Necessary Fiction, and Niteblade. In 2012, was a contributor at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and his short story “The Garden” was nominated for a 2013 Pushcart Prize.