Reviewed by Barry J. House

A little wider than A5 size, Trunk Stories is well edited and superbly laid out with a font that is large enough to be easy on my tired eyes. The magazine has a black and white cover and is beautifully illustrated throughout with pen and ink drawings and the occasional photograph. Five of the six fiction stories carry multiple illustrations.

The fiction content opens with my personal favourite, The Good Part by Carole Lanham. This, the longest tale by far, is simply yet powerfully told from the twelve-year-old main protagonist's point of view. Set in the old American west, the plot, centring on the struggles between a boy and his vampire sister, quickly sucked me in (excuse the pun, heh, heh). But really, there were certain passages in there that seized me, trapping me in a dreamlike state as if merely reading the tale might be enough to turn me into some kind of submissive half-vampire. I loved it. In my opinion it is well worth buying the magazine for this one story, alone.

In the second story, Silent Corners, Nate Southard takes an excellent premise and builds a solid story around it: in certain buildings there are sweet spots where you can hear a person whispering from across a room as if he/she is standing right next to you -- if there are sweet spots, then might there not also be dead spots, to where no sound can reach? An enjoyable story but I found the ending a little predictable.

The Tamer, by Neil Ayers, concerns a man, the lonely woman he meets and the rook that she tames. Or is it the rook that tames her? Read it and judge for yourself. The piece is well written and interesting, as I have come to expect from this writer. However, I was left with the impression that this is a slice of life snippet lifted from a longer, perhaps more rounded story.

Michael Northrop's Unvincible is about a country boy who, having lost a leg as the result of a poisonous spider bite, moves to the big city, where he meets a girl with a prosthetic arm. With their comparable disabilities, they seem to complement each other -- things can only go downhill from here.

And they do.

An effectively written tale with, I think, an altogether unsettling ending.

Subliminal Verses by Brett Alexander Savory speaks of an unseen force that infects humanity, nurturing our darker emotions, manoeuvring us, through anger and violence, towards our ultimate destruction. Quality writing but the overall message is a little too gloomy for this reader.

The final tale, Manfleas by William Wilde, is a damn good read set in an alternative present that is overrun by half man/half flea monsters. It seems that the national sport is to shoot the blighters on sight; something in which the main character is only too happy to oblige, pulling his car off the road and leaving his family while he jumps into a crop field to bag a few. This story, my second favourite in the magazine, highlights the nature of tolerance and, perhaps, raises questions over society's definition of it.

Additional Contributions

Non Fiction:

Baby Secret by Margaret Crocker

Why I hate Penn Station by Veronica Schanoes


Haunted House by Christoph Meyer

Orange-Green Monsters Kristine Ong Muslim


Timothy Dedman

On the front of Trunk Stories #3 is a quote by Broken Pencil, saying: 'Holds a wealth of fractured treasure'. I wholeheartedly agree.

You will have heard it said before, no doubt, but in the case of Trunk Stories the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts. Go on, treat yourself: snuggle away in some quiet corner and read it from cover to cover.

Trunk Stories edited by William Smith. A5+, 44pp, $4US. Published by Hang Fire Publications, 38 Prospect Park SW, Apt. 9, Brooklyn. NY 11215.

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