Short Story Review: "This is Not a Love Song" by Brenden Mathews
This contemporary story is about two long-time friends, one a musician and the other photographer who always has her camera at the ready. And her favorite subject is the musician, Kat.
The story is narrated by the photographer as if she were flipping through a photo album, pointing out certain pictures to the reader. This gives the piece an episodic feel to it, yet the narrative is complete.
Interior. Stairwell. Evergreen Avenue Loft.
She stands in the doorway, a ghost outlined by the yawning black of the stairwell. She looks drained, which is how she often looked in those days. Her arms are folded across her chest and her skin bleeds into the T-shirt, white on white… You can say that the way her body burns a hole in the image is just a photographer’s trick, a little darkroom magic to saturate the blacks and flush everything to the whitest white, and you’d be right. But you can’t deny that she’s pissed. (p. 212)
Kat and her band eventually meet with a little bit of success. The photographer follows, quietly taking pictures. Sometimes it gets in the way, as it does with Kat’s boyfriends who’d prefer a little privacy. There’s that night that Kat’s at a party and had a bit too much. As Kat’s roommate, the she’s told to come get her and finds her puking by a toilet, nearly incoherent. The photograph pulls out her camera.
The writing is clear and concise; the photograph-like storytelling device works as well. There is poignancy without melodrama. While I find myself dislike a lot of contemporary stories told for other writers and stories about artists, this one worked for me.
Title: “This is Not a Love Song”
Published in: The Best American Short Stories 2014
First Published : Virginia Quarterly Review 89/3
Author: Brenden Mathews
Image Credit » http://pixabay.com/en/camera-lens-lens-closeup-458045/ by sbl0323