Julia Long's Pollyanna

Bruce Von Stiers

Pollyanna is a term used to describe someone with a very positive outlook. It stems from a series of youth oriented books featuring a girl named Pollyanna. But the term can also be derogatory, used as a bit of a put-down.

The reason I bring up the term Pollyanna is that I just read a volume of short stories. The title of this book is Pollyanna. The author is Julia Long. It was published by Bottlecap Press and has eighty-one pages. There are eleven stories in the book. It is soft covered and features art from Matt Minter. Julia had earlier versions of the stories in this volume published by Electric Cereal and tNY Press.

The stories in this volume are far from being positive and optimistic. In fact, the lead character in each story is seriously flawed. But that is what makes this such an interesting read.

The first story is titled Slave. Lamb is surrounded by sex. His roommate, Nate, has a hot sister who's around. Nate is watching porn and tries to get Lamb interested. But Lamb is only interested in food. The point of the story seems to be that there are many addictions, and that some are less mainstream than others. And combining addictions can lead to, well, bizarre conclusions.

Second in appearance in the volume is Lincoln Log Smoke Signal. Shem is a guy who has sex with his therapist, touches his genitals a lot and has something he calls his God Sized Hole. The therapist claims she's a nympho, a condition brought on by a cyst she has. Shem could care less. He's wrapped up in his own world, thinking about infecting his body with foot and mouth disease. Once again, the author paints a picture of someone whose addictions are far beyond the norm.

Milquetoast is a story featuring an introvert named Ham. He is such an introvert that he doesn't even know the last name of his roommate. They communicate through texts, even though they are only rooms apart. The roommate keeps wanting Ham to come and make dinner with him. But can Ham break free of whatever is making him stay in his room and go fix dinner?

Then there is Dolly whose lead character is Archie. She likes Cheetos and a particular porn web site. Archie has a few obsessions, one of them leading to an interesting interaction with actors on the porn site.

As you might have gathered, most of the stories have sex as an underlying theme. The final story in the volume brings that front and center. Suze is the lead character in Leg Up. She is very disjointed. Suze ends up at a party where a beautiful couple try to seduce her. But because of her warped psyche, the result of the liaison is different than what it might have been.

The stories in Pollyanna are a bit bizarre. The characters are weird and have severe psychological problems. Their emotions are raw and, although strange, the author makes each character seem very real. Almost too real. The characters are kind of “fringe people” who live with their parents, not working or not being able to stay focused on work. Some of the lead characters function but under the surface are a complete mess.

Pollyanna is definitely a fascinating read. I felt that the stories were well written. Julia Long has taken some very strange psychological circumstances and wove together stories showcasing them.

You can order a copy of Pollyanna through the Bottlecap Press web site at http://bottlecap-press.myshopify.com/products/pollyanna


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© 2016 Bruce E Von Stiers