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Book Review: ORANGE JUICE by Timothy Willis Sanders


Timothy Willis Sanders [blog]
Awesome Machine Press, 2010

At ~50 pages and 9 stories, ORANGE JUICE is a slim thing that entertained me for exactly 1 day. I didn’t want the book to end and when it finally did, I went straight to my miniature computer and queried [timothy willis sanders] to find out something more about this Austinite.

A quick internet search revealed no Wikipedia entry for Timothy Willis Sanders. The date he lists for his birthday on his Facebook account is May 21, 1911. Based on his pictures, this is probably very false.

Timothy Willis Sanders is not 99.

My guess is that he’s in his early 20s.

Timothy Willis Sanders is single with an interest in women.

For political views, he leans toward the Union for Congo’s Reconstruction.

Religious views, Pastafarian.

Timothy Willis Sanders works at American Short Fiction as an editorial assistant. He has been doing this since 2008 and is more than likely extremely happy to be doing this with his non-writing, non-debauchery time.

ORANGE JUICE, a collection of stories, is his first published book object. I liked it a lot, but my interest didn’t really catch until the third story, CAT STUFF.

That said,

I feel like the first 2 very short stories are actually Timothy Willis Sanders warming up to deliver CAT STUFF, which eased me directly into the mind of a kleptomaniac not doing anything with his life and too lazy to give a fuck. There is a bitterness in this sexually-repressed teenager that Timothy Willis Sanders handles with a steady hand. Over the course of 1 night, Timothy Willis Sanders perfectly captures Jared’s inner rage, which shows itself through petty acts of pilfering and sullying. By the end of the story, I felt Jared was capable of murder, but not necessarily getting away with it.

I lifted my eyes from the page and looked at everything around me.

I grew mistrustful.

I turned the page and read the title of the next story, SWEET POTATOES.

This story wasn’t as taut as CAT STUFF, but I was carried along to the end, when the main character got around to calling his mom. In this pithy dialogue, Timothy Willis Sanders got an emotional reaction from the inside of me. I heard this conversation. I listened to it silently. It was as if everything that came before in SWEET POTATOES was build-up for this quaint explosion of pathos.

Touched, I lifted my face from the page and scratched my chin.

I grew somewhat sentimental about life.

I turned the page and read the title of the next story.

Like the first 2 stories, especially OUT THERE DANCING, I feel like Timothy Willis Sanders uses YOU HAVE A CRUSH ON KELLZ as a kind of warmup, or rather, an intermission, since it comes in the middle of the book and, for me, would be fairly represented as a lull in the trajectory of ORANGE JUICE, or the calm before the next 3 stories.

I turned the page.

INFINITY GAUNTLET took me into the mind of a dysfunctional couple, full of deceit and residual lust. Timothy Willis Sanders has a special way of gutting his characters and stapling their thoughts onto pulp. I feel like he writes with a sterilized pen that mostly strings together declarative neutral sentences, but sometimes his ballpoint tip becomes pathogenic.

I coughed. Turned the page.

In VACATION TIME, I got another taste of Jared from CAT STUFF, only this time the destructive force was named Pat. Pat wafts throughout this 6-7 page story but doesn’t make his entrance until the end, when he says, “I gotta piss”, and runs into the main character, Greg, moodily scrubbing Pepto Bismol off the bathroom floor. The gauche dialoge that follows is Timothy Willis Sanders writing pathogens.

I didn’t know what to expect anymore from these short little ditties.

I didn’t find myself siding with any of the characters.

Having said that,

None of them generated a strong dislike either.

Except for Jared. Jared I didn’t like. Jared was too real. Was too deadly.

It was Jared, channeled through Pat, who impelled me to turn the page.

DRIVER’S LICENSE is about Carl & Jill. There’s some laughter in this story about the beginning of what very well could grow into love. I related to Carl & Jill, especially when the homeless man walked by them, asked for money, and Carl, from the porch, lied and told him he didn’t have any. I imagined Carl & Jill on the porch of a shotgun house. I also related to the role the internet played in this story. The irrelevant fishing emails and strange socializing on Facebook and zooming in on Google Maps “Street View” was all-too-familiar.

I reflected on my zeitgeist.

I nodded my chin toward the sky.

I turned the page to the last story, not ready for this book to be over.

RUE DE SOMETHING is a strange piece to end this collection. It took me out of the country to a place of unfamiliar streets and language. All of a sudden, I was a tourist who couldn’t find his footing. Timothy Willis Sanders creates dual voices in his first-person narrator, maybe to emphasize the fragmented nature of people far away from home.

I closed the book and felt like I’d been carried away to a labyrinth I didn’t know my way around.

I’d been stranded.

Storytime was over.

It was time to lift my eyes and face real life.

But before that, I queried [timothy willis sanders] on my miniature computer.

Awesome Machine Press put together this book object. Thank you. I really like how AMP used the space on the back cover to list the last sentences of the 9 stories. Each sentence falls somewhere between 3 and 11 words.

Of the 9 sentences, I have to say that after finishing this slim book it was the first I felt the most:

“The glass spins through the room and lands on the couch.”

I’m looking forward to Timothy Willis Sanders’s next go at literature. I’m hoping it’ll be a little more substantial than ORANGE JUICE so it can keep me entertained for 2, maybe 3 days.

My Rating =

November 30, 2010 1:06 am

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