Milagros Green Lavalle
For those who grew up in Miami, Florida, they may instantly find themselves back in the Sunshine state with a new perspective of its beaches and canals that snake throughout neighborhoods. Florida children may remember their own encounters with various dangerous reptiles and strange pets, as well as memories of the unbelievable headlines Florida news is known for. From pythons and dog attacks to tractors and cancer, Shane Hinton’s Pinkies manages to disturb the reader and yet maintain tranquility behind the absurdity. Hinton surreality makes the reader both cringe and laugh.
Each story is as impactful as the last, making the reader put the book down for a while either from disgust, upset, or wonder. A nice feat. Although the short stories seem to have a biographical base, Hinton’s use of fiction depicts real feelings behind adulthood and fatherhood. The short stories mainly follow Shane Hinton, either as a character or author, in addition to a few stories from the perspective of women.
Some of the most common themes are parenthood, pregnancy and family life. In the first story, “Pinkies,” the narrator baits traps with newborn mice to catch the pythons threatening the neighborhood’s young and elderly. Similarly, another family is threatened by cars crashing into their living room, destroying their home and endangering their lives. Oddly enough, these stories are looking for ways to keep the family safe. “Relapse” portrays a couple having trouble starting a family while their dog kills squirrels in the backyard. Death is casually discussed in “Pets,” after numerous domestic animals pass away. Death is expected to such an extent the narrator and his son guess ahead how each new pet will go. “Never Trust The Weatherman” describes the strange calm which the character felt as a tractor ran over him.
The reader realizes how people today are expected to function or react with civility–quiet and in private– under intense, bizarre, everyday and life threatening circumstances. The stories come together as reactions and awareness and acknowledgement of life’s absurd events.
While death and threat are seen throughout the stories, many of the stories take on the subsets of such events: loneliness, divorce. “Symbiont” is the story of a woman whose vagina holds an old man’s face. Believe me when I say, this one is rather hard to explain.
The best stories include “Four Funerals,” which consists of moments in which four deaths occur: By drowning, a car crash, illness and a dogfight. This story is the single one that does not come off as fictional, and strangely, convincingly biographical.
“All the Shane Hintons” is another favorite. The story follows Shane Hinton, who is named after the author, who organizes a reunion with all the Shane Hintons he can find. Included is a convicted rapist no one trusts, but still believe he deserves a second chance. Shane Hinton does not trust the other Shane Hintons around his wife and feels unsure of himself. The story explores insecurity in marriage and what it means to share something among strangers. Yes, reading this collection all in one sitting or before bed may result in freaky dreams.
Pinkies by Shane Hinton
Pub: Burrow Press