Embracing the Fog
Review by Stephanie Drynan
By Robert Bruce Drynan, Mel Goldberg, Antonio Ramblés, and James Tipton
Publisher: Ediciones del Lago (Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico), 2015
Available on Amazon at $9.95 US paper, $2.99 US Kindle and locally (autographed) for $200 Pesos in Ajijic at Diane Pearl Colecciones and Yves Restaurant or through the individual contributors.
Embracing the Fog,by four popular Lake Chapala authors—Robert Bruce Drynan, Mel Goldberg, Antonio Ramblés, and James Tipton—is a well-considered selection of short stories that speak to the essential question: “Who am I?” We are all faced with the often messy job of determining what makes us who we are, what is this fog that so often surrounds us, and how do we learn to “embrace” it.
In Ramblés’ story, “Suspicion,” a gringo inadvertently sees too much in the Mexican hills; and there two men, without a common language, must learn to dance around, and then with each other. In his story, “Folding Money,” Ramblés deftly sketches a few days in the lives of two down-and-out individuals whose lives intersect at the coffee shop where they work.
I enjoy Tipton’s wistful longing, his willingness to serve up romantic visions even though manslaughter is the catalyst, as in “Willie Bill Begay’s Long Walk,” where the old man is somehow healed, reconnected to everything important to him. In “Knee Deep in Salomé” the deaths are of ego and of hubris. In that story, tales of death and murder work on a young man to heal him. In “When the Fat Lady Runs in the Rain,” Tipton takes the reader into the heart of a small Mexican community where after she is assaulted the Fat Lady, a gringa, realizes she is no longer an outsider but an insider, and feels loved and accepted by the community she has chosen to be her own.
Mel Goldberg in “What is Truth” previews what is to come with: “Su Lin floated by. She had rejected him and dwelt in the subconscious part of memory reserved for heartache.” Set in a possibly grim future, Goldberg’s protagonist must weigh the outcomes of a deft counter-rejection against a more meek survival.
“Quatsch,” by Robert Bruce Drynan, reads like a memoir. Much of Drynan’s work is rich in personal detail and intimate knowledge of place, time, aspect, and history. Like many of Drynan’s work “Quatsch” is a dizzying tour of personal suffering, perseverance, faith, and redemption. The primary love story becomes almost incidental to the heroism—and perhaps fatalism—of the quiet family in a small town in Germany.
Embracing the Fog is a collection of works that most readers will relate to. These are characters with personal confusions and conundrums that, whether male or female, we can identify with. Most of us have grappled with our fears and doubts and questioned the decisions that we must make and that also define us.
One of the good things about an anthology of short stories is that if a particular author or story doesn’t appeal to us, there is always another author coming up. The worst thing about an anthology is when you enjoy ALL the stories and get to the dratted END. I did not want Embracing the Fog to end.