Crooked Roads, by Alec Cizak.
So, so good! I said in my review of Alec Cizak’s novella Down on the Street that I was looking forward to becoming a rusted-on fan of his work, so much did I enjoy that book.
Well, the oxidation process is at full throttle with this awesome collection of short stories. What sordid and seedy slices of modern life get served up here! It doesn’t come much rawer or grittier, and the characterization is simply superb. Mr Cizak makes his views on the evils of political correctness in writing in his foreword to Issue # 2 of Pulp Modern, and he practices exactly what he preaches in his own writing. A fellow writer after my own heart. If you do belong to the PC brigade, who are doing their best to turn our story-telling art into a vomit puddle of vanilla banalities, then I suggest you go elsewhere with your precious sensibilities, because Mr Cizak’s fine, honest prose will have you running in fear from real life, and real writing.
I just wanted this collection to keep going, but I’ll have to settle for getting online and purchasing anything else I can find by Cizak. It is damned hard to pick a favourite in this assembly of social squalidness. “No Hard Feelings” with its clash of social classes is up there. How good is this? “…his daughter wanted to jab him a little the way daughters always jabbed their daddies – with her choice of boyfriend. If the thought of trailer trash corking her didn’t make her daddy break down and cry, she’d go to college and run a few black fellows through her.”
Later, “A Moral Majority” with its tragedy and scathing look at religious hypocrisy is superb, and as relevant as ever the ways things are going. The twists in “My Kind of Town” are brilliant – and it definitely is one of those towns! If I had to pick a favourite, I think it is “Patience”, with a very different take on the cop and prostitute combination. Try this line: “She stuck out her hand in a half-dainty manner, like the streets hadn’t stripped her of an ounce of civility.” No spoilers here, but civility is the last thing on the mind of the young whore, Patience. But the ending is a hell of a scene of raw justice. And the sort of scene that’ll run rampant during those waking moments at 3 a.m.
Fantastic work, Mr Cizak, I’m coming looking for more.
And if you like gutsy, honest writing, don’t forget to sample Pulp Modern magazine – Mr Cizak is the masterful editor of that very fine magazine of pulp and noir.
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