Cummins' Local Music

Bruce Von Stiers

Walter Cummins has for a long time been a contributor of fiction stories to quarterlies. In fact, Cummins has had over 100 stories published in such periodicals as Kansas Quarterly, Virginia Quarterly Review and the Green Hills Literary Lantern.

Cummins has put together a bunch of his stories into a single volume. He titled the collection of stories Local Music. That is also the title of the first story contained in the book. The book is from Egress Books, an imprint of Hopewell Publications.

The stories that you will find in Local Music are about broken down people, dysfunctional families and vague human drama. The stories build up to a certain point and then, just when you think that things will work out, the bottom drops out. Yeah, just like in real life. For the most part the stories found here aren't of the feel-good variety. They are raw emotion and human experience exposed to the bare bones.

Just like the first story, Local Music. You meet Philip who goes to a bar to listen to a has-been sax player. We find out that Philip's wife has been stepping out with his best friend. Another friend, while listening to the sax player, keeps egging Philip on about doing something about his cheating wife and backstabbing best friend. Things get convoluted fast. But the protagonist ends up being someone you didn't really expect.

In Riding West, Peter takes Denise along for a long car ride. He is going on vacation and Denise is tagging along. She's kind of running away from her husband. But is she really? And why did Peter agree to take her along? Was he expecting some kind of liaison? The story, like the first one, doesn't give you a warm fuzzy feeling at the end. More like a metal taste in your mouth after encountering something not quite so pleasant.

While the story Escaping This Place is a bit more uplifting, the ending is somewhat cold and stark.

Visiting is a story of Martin visiting his sister. She had remarried and had a passel of his & her kids. The family, as described in the story, was very dysfunctional. Once again, Cummins brings tight human emotion to life as the Martin progresses through his visit. Strange relationships with ex's, kids that cuss and bully others are just a few things that Martin is exposed to at his sister's home.

Clogged is a story with a woman who is overwhelmed by circumstances. Throw in a backed up toilet and a lecherous neighbor and you have a raw tale of despair.

A rather interesting story is Fathering. Gerri meets a man in a bar. She had just been fired and was feeling sorry for herself. Then she meets Carson, an aimless rich man. They end up going on a road trip together to visit his children. These kids were from different mothers and spread out all over the country. But one of the kids doesn't know that Carson is his father. Will Carson visit the boy and possibly scar his psyche for life? In between visits, we find out that Gerri has her own father issues.

Islands finds Mike loving different women at different locations. Is he ever really happy or just in constant need of new companionship?

The last story in the collection is about a man on the end of his life's journey. Sad, but prolific, Little Old Man was a fitting story to close the collection.

Local Music is raw emotion, life and lifestyle turmoil, dysfunction and true-to-life experiences put into compact stories. You won't find feel-good stories here; just hurt, pain and less than stellar life experiences. In other words, just like real life.

Local Music is available through the publisher and selected online and traditional book retailers. The publisher's web site is . You might also want to check out the author's web site at .


© 2007 Bruce E Von Stiers