Fiction by Andy Plattner
Mercer University Press, April 2022
The characters in this collection of stories by Andy Plattner, Assistant Professor of English at Kennesaw State Universit, move through their lives with the sense that something is missing. When attempting to fill the void, they discover that the problem isn’t what’s missing, the problem invariably has to do with a truth they’ve been trying to avoid.
In “Landslide,” an unemployed father brings home a board game so he can teach his children what is good about American politics. In “Tower,” a father and daughter head for Chicago to visit the Art Institute and take in a Manet exhibition. While in the city they find a way to express their feelings about the 45th President. Other stories center on gambling: “Hialeah” and “Fortune” involve characters who are trying to change the direction of their sputtering lives. While both stories take place in Miami, they happen decades apart yet feature similar traps.
The stories are also set in small towns: Akron, Ohio; Steelage, West Virginia; Vicksburg, Mississippi. In “At the Democrat Museum in Madisonville, Kentucky,” a middle-aged narrator visits his mother during the pandemic and tries to understand why she won’t wear her face mask, even though she is a proud, lifelong Democrat. In “Mississippi,” the main character returns to her hometown to assist her family with a problem, despite the fact they haven’t asked for any help. The main character in “Room” routinely travels to a specific motel in an out-of-the-way town in West Virginia because he knows the proprietor there will sleep with him. As the affair grows riskier, his interest in continuing it begins to diminish. She tells him things will be all right, and reminds him that they’re not in love, anyway.