Jettison by Nathaniel G. Moore
Anvil Press, 2016; 288 pp
Reviewed by Jack Hill
Nathaniel G. Moore's first full-length short story collection, Jettison, is diverse, to say the least, successfully and delightfully subverting our expectations of tropes. For instance, when violence is expected we instead get something more complex—love/friendship/interpersonality. This subversion, or disruption, of expectations is largely handled through a deft use of language, especially when Moore is working with being crowded by objects.
In “Son of Zodiac” there's stuff everywhere: “From across the street I eyed her angling a discarded vacuum on the curb with all the dramatics of an action hero. It kept falling over, back into the driveway. On its handle, a crummy sign rendered in pencil crayon (light blue) read 'FREE'.” (47) or, a couple of paragraphs later, “I was born with cheese powder on my toes and processed cheese splayed across my screaming red scalp.” (48). The stuff crowding Moore's characters are more than stage objects used to create tension, drive action, describe a setting, or show character. In addition to all of that, there's an exploration of how stuff crowds our physical bodies threading these stories together and, possibly, how many people (these characters included) are trying to learn how to navigate having more than what's needed, and how planned obsolescence invades our lives. In short, Moore has created a compelling reflection of life through this crowding.
The book itself also looks cool, thoughtful, a well-designed object—the back cover looks like a punk show flyer with a little about each story, and there are liner notes in the last pages. Prior to each story there's a write-up about the story you're about to read, offering insight into the story itself and the work Moore is doing. Ken Sparling, author of Dad Says He Saw You At The Mall, writes of “Jaws”: “I never once continued to read because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I read because I wanted more, losing myself in the moment, moving forward only to experience the deliciously erotic moment of feeling lost again and again.” Moore's Jettison is a collection where getting lost feels good, and often getting lost feels more like exploring a place that's both familiar and new at once, being more about the journey than the destination, a truly intriguing and refreshing book to read.