Recommendation: Damnificados

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Damnificados is a novel published this year by JJ Amaworo Wilson.

I would never have read this book if I hadn’t met the author, a well-traveled and gentle person who now is part of the writing world of southern New Mexico.  I don’t find time to read a lot of novels, and when I come across terms like magical realism I wonder what that means.

If that’s what this book is, I’m a fan. The writing is rich, the story is lively, the characters are fascinating, the action ranges from mundane to mythic.  Though based on an actual event in Venezuela, the story soon expands the location into a city that is nowhere and everywhere – the names of the slums around the city come from many different languages, as do the names of the people.

“Damnificados” are people of the slums.  It’s an ugly world; I don’t think I’d like to see a movie of this story – too much trash – but the characters are people worth knowing, and so are the animals, who take several interesting roles in the action.  But the main character is the high abandoned tower in which a whole community is created by the desperate people who move in.  And the ground on which it is built.

The book is a delightful carnival ride of the imagination.  I’ll be looking for more by this author.


One for Fun


I’m sharing a poem today of which I am particularly fond because it was one of those rare ones that just came.  There’s nothing factual in it―perhaps it has the truth of a good story, flash fiction in poetic form.  Enjoy!

Decaf, Please

An old car knocks,
and an old man, thin hair
slicked like the teenager
he once was, asks me
to go with him,
leave the museum,
grab some grub, or a latte
(we’ve given up smoking).
Seize the day, he begs me,
a seizure might interrupt.

The era of ambience
is over – dimmed lights,
candles, appearances
that mattered in the eighties.
We pass up Starbucks
for a booth at the diner:
when the nineties’ bubble
burst we were thrown
back to essentials:
a man, a woman, a drink.

“Decaf, Please” was first published in Into the Teeth of the Wind and is included in my collection Accidents (Finishing Line Press, 2004).

Coping with the Clock Change

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            Two coyotes are heading toward their dens.

            “Why are we quitting early?” the younger one asks.  “It’s still plenty dark.”

            “Where are your ears, boy?”  asks the elder one.  “Didn’t you notice that the two-leggeds are up and around already?”

            “Why is that?”

            “Don’t know, but it happens every year when the days are getting longer.  Must be something weird in their metabolism, ‘cause there’s no sense to it.”

            A third coyote has joined their homeward trot.  “My dad told me,” he says, “that his dad said he was prowling round a barn once and heard horses saying they were getting fed early so they could get on to plowing and planting.”

            The elder coyote scoffs.  “What do horses know?”

            “What’s plowing?” asks the younger.