by Jeremy Chacon
“You were lucky that wasn’t perfume”
We live in a divided world. The progress of our modern age has meant that a “viewpoint” – not race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion – is the new divisive force that pulls us apart at our collective seams. Populist politicians, technology, economic disparity, and social media soap boxes are the preferred points of self-segregated coffee shop discussion… IF, this is truly the case, then what Mr. DiFelice has offered us with ‘LURES’ – his collection of short stories – is perhaps the one redemptive quality that can bring our disparate society together: Humanity’s touch of the Absurd.
Now before the intellectual class dives full force into an ad-hoc defense of Camus, and the “Alt-“whatever-the-fucks” spiral into conniptions over this being more subversive elitist trash that fails to live up to the traditionalist musings of Paul Harvey, let me preface my use of the phrase “absurd”…
Absurd, as I use it now, addresses the ridiculousness EACH of us experience in vain attempts to control the world we live in. The absurd you encounter within DiFelice’s collection of stories are nothing more than moments that each of us brush up against as we all meander down our individual mortal coils.
DiFelice has subtly incorporated these collective moments of daily absurdity, into a collection of stories that redress our very basic self-evident connections. Fact is – whether willfully or passively — Mr. DiFelice has managed to dispose of the highly charged manifestos and has instead presented each of us with something much more important – common ground.
A husband’s run-amock imagination while contending with fertility issues… A woman’s acknowledgement of emotional truth – and her despair in NOT being alone, even at the moment of acting on a separation… Siblings contending with THEIR truth, while attempting to move on from the passing of an emotional distant parent… A writer seeking to be new, while being thwarted by formulas… Friends unwittingly acting the fool for a buddy whose death wish was to lash out.
Even without having personally experienced every one of these scenarios – and this is just a portion of the vignettes DiFelice offers the reader — we can all connect on the common experience. Every moment of absurdity within ‘LURES’ feels like the retelling of a story shared between friends and family while sitting around with a cup of coffee or glass of beer/merlot. We either are these stories – or at least we know them intimately. The beauty here is that DiFelice allows us to experience these stories without the need of group “one-ups-manship”. Instead of matching story for story during a barbecue, we get the opportunity to sit and absorb them… To see where we connect, and then consider the choices we made – or could have made — for ourselves.
An added benefit… DiFelice also allows us moments to laugh without being judged. As with any amount of realized absurdity, humor is experienced – rather than found. Mercifully, DiFelice doesn’t dance around or apologize for his humor… He puts it out there just as he should, and you laugh at it just as you should (involuntarily and sometimes with just a tinge of guilt). Life’s absurdities never offer set-up lines. Rather, the humor slashes in and happens without preparation — and this is a talent that DiFelice doesn’t let go to waste. Fact is, there was a moment where I went into a full throated laugh… and were I to describe the moment here, there would be no mercy shown for the indictment others would throw on my soul (HINT: It ties in to the quote I included at the top).
Bottom line… Will DiFelice’s ‘LURES’ stand up literarily with Salinger’s ‘9 Stories’?… Shit if I know. Even more than that, who the hell am I to even pose the question?!? What I DO know is that over the past year I have been spending way too much time suspicious of my fellow man. Wondering if “they” perceive the current tide of social disorder taking over on 24 hour news coverage through the same prism I do – or are they “one of them”? And, for as much as I attempt to fight falling into my own created victim-hood traps, the last 6 months have made it AWFULLY difficult. DiFelice’s ‘LURES’ was a good fucking read, that allowed me to feel connected… Because if we all have to deal with a little crazy shit in our lives, then at least I know I’m not alone.