In Michigan writer Andy Mozina’s newest collection, “The Women Were Leaving The Men,” the author’s short story trail leads through thirteen different experiences that will connect the reader intimately in private relationships with personal demons and cultural phenomena. Each is written with varied tone and unique narration so the reader never picks up on the writer’s proclivities toward a certain style or method.
In “Privacy, Love, Loneliness,” teenagers with unique views on the world a bit beyond their age, begin a romantic relationship, even though both appear to be a little unstable. Mozina creates characters here that are self-aware and funny, while also being conscious of their impending entry into the full time adult world that is both confusing and dangerous. The dialogue between characters is the real charm, as in this excerpt where the two are meeting outside of a class for the first time:
“Do you mind if I get something out of my locker?” I said, dropping my book bag.
“Sure,” she said, and she stepped aside.
When I didn’t care, I had a way of talking that she liked, but now I cared, so I couldn’t talk. I took my English notebook out of my locker and held it with two hands, like a fancy plate. “Can I talk to you later?” I said, walking away. “Please don’t try to follow me.”
“Hey, I wanted to talk to you.”
“I’m not safe to be around right now.”
“You’re telling me,” she yelled, and she stomped the heel of her right foot…
Another favorite is “The Arch,” where lawyer Stephen Wendell Osborne finds himself booted from his corporate job for throwing a deal just so he could have “knowledge” of opposing council’s lovely feet. When he meets Doris Chanilowski, whose fetish is storing things in her vagina, they set out together to fight their demons, but have mixed results. Dialogue is, again, a strength in this story, but Mozina also has ample talent with prose as is demonstrated in the following example:
“By way of analogy with his own psyche, he sees deep into the pathology of St. Louis: an American city whose butt has been kicked, first by Chicago, then by so many other cities, a metro area that hasn’t felt completely OK since the 1904 World’s Fair left town, a city aware of some deep deficiency in its relationship to all other cities. It must find love and power somehow. It will make do with the Arch’s gleaming, eternally spreading legs.”
In the title story “The Women Were Leaving The Men,” the main character is divorced and, fortunately for him, Mr. Mozina seems to have an absolute understanding of both women’s and men’s confusion and loss over this sad passage of modern life. The understanding of unusual people in varied situations is prevalent throughout this collection and is the real and rare strength of Mr. Mozina’s writing.
“The Women Were Leaving the Men” by Andy Mozina is part of the “Made In Michigan Writers Series.” It is available through Wayne State University Press, and other vendors.
Tyler Hill is a Michigan writer himself. He has written articles for several regional outlets, on topics ranging from the arts to politics. A selection of his poetry ran in the May 2007 thedetroiter.com’s lit section. This is his first book review with thedetroiter.com.
InsideOut Literary Arts Program has teamed up with the Detroit Artists Market in hosting their third annual Writers Reading Series poetry night held Friday October 19th, 2007 from 7pm-9pm. The event features poets Francine Harris, George Henry, Stephan Johnson, Jamaal May, and Thomas Park all delivering their works throughout the evening.
Organized by Dr. Terry Blackhawk in 1995, InsideOut Literary Arts was created to connect children with the satisfaction and power of reading and writing. The organization places professional writers in different schools to encourage students in developing their own eloquent expression and imagination in reading and writing. Many of these children have the opportunity to publish and perform their own work.
Recently, I had the opportunity to work with Suzanne Scarfone, a member of the InsideOut family, with a fourth grade classroom at Hanstein Elementary in Detroit. The children were free to open up their minds and imaginations and explore a clear understanding of reading and writing of poetry. With a number of entertaining and hands on activities, the kids were able to explore and create their own ideas, and had the opportunity to share with others around them.
InsideOut offers their program to many different school districts by coming to the classroom and working directly with teachers and students. Since its founding, InsideOut has worked with over 40 different schools. They are currently active in 26 schools. As their organization continues to grow, they are able to be involved with increasingly more schools. Terry Blackhawk said, “We believe in the power of creative language and creative thinking. Imagination is everyone’s birth right. InsideOut has allowed kids to explore the beauty of language and writing as an art form.”
It’s a special opportunity for kids that might not get such exposure, to really come to appreciate reading and writing in a remarkable way. For more information on InsideOut, or for information on their third annual event please contact them at (313) 965-5332 or visit their website at www.InsideOutdetroit.org.
Christine Stinson is thedetroiter.com’s open minded and hard-working intern.