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Short Stories 365/177 | N.S. Beranek

“An Appetite for Warmth” by Neil Plakcy from Men of the Mean Streets (Bold Strokes Books, 2011). Edited by Greg Herren and J.M. Redmann.

It’s funny when you stop to consider that this story was written by the same person who penned “The Baker” (Short Stories 365/14). They couldn’t be more different. The characters in that story were charming, and the language of the piece evoked all of one’s senses. This main character is damaged goods. He’s spinning wildly out of control, addicted to the adrenaline rush brought on by having sex with strangers, or with anyone outside of a committed relationship, or in exchange for influence or money.

Some of the word choices very early on had me thinking this was going to spin off into Jeff Lindemann territory. I especially thought this after an early character was rather conveniently dispatched (“Alas, poor Bulkington,” as Ansen Dibell would say). But things were fairly straightforward after that…until the very end. I had trouble with the ending. I’m not convinced the main character is that guy. He’s dissolute, sure, but he’s not violent.

Is this noir? The main character isn’t exactly lured into making bad choices, he just craves the high that danger brings. He’s certainly fatalistic, though. The verdict? I don’t know, but I am enjoying the collection.