Saturday, October 20, 2012

Flies on the Ceiling

Flies on the Ceiling

"Flies on the Ceiling" is a mature, masterful story about a breakdown. It is a dreamlike and horrific, as reality is melded with fantasy when Izzy has to deal with a choice that haunts her. She cannot run away from her thoughts, even though she runs far and wide to escape. She does find some relief in the form of a surrogate family, but ultimately that does not last. In the end we view this character who had largely been seen as quirky, strange, and sometimes ridiculous as a more realized, though damaged woman. This is a complicated and troubling tale: some see it as hackneyed with blatant symbolism while others view it as the intersection of grief, religiosity, and recovery.

The other Locas characters are well-represented in the rest of the stories. We learn more about Ray's life and childhood; we see how unhinged and needy Penny Century is as she tries to sabotage Maggie and Ray so to promote Maggie and Hopey.  We also glimpse into Doyle's life and see how he began on the path of violence, grifting, and drifting. He is a pathetic character who seems capable of so much more, but he continually gets beaten down by life events. When I heard Jaime talk about his work this summer at HeroesCon, he spoke of his proclivity to act as a villain who tortures his characters. That vibe comes through in this volume loud and clear.

Gilbert does not have much work in this volume, but his impressionistic, dreamlike bio of artist Frida Kahlo is so full of admiration, craft, and daring imagery that it holds its own with the title tale. The rest of his entries read like experiments in form and surreality.

My Rating: Like the movie said, "There are a million stories in the naked city." Jaime is determined to tell them all, and tell them well. A couple of throwaway tales detract from the book as a whole.

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