I love Caleb Wilson’s “American Dreamers” in the most recent issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. Unfortunately, it can’t be read online, so you will have to trust me and go out to buy a copy of the zine in order to read it. It’s a set of three interconnected stories of driven people: a detective who becomes more lost the more answers she finds, an artist whose medium is bacteria, and two composers in a cutthroat rivalry. The creativity of this story is astounding:
Nile, studying composition under avant-garde marching band leader James Hannibal Orser, wrote a requiem, based upon the poetry of Sappho, to be sung pianissimo by a hundred-strong choir of quadruple basses.
The example here is good because, while it’s silly and a bit of a parody, it also exemplifies the creative wonder in many of the characters’ actions. The story’s tone is gentle, humorous, and poignant, as when the masterpiece of the bacteria artist grows, lives, and dies off schedule, dashing the artist’s plans.
There seems to be some type of cause and effect relationship between the three stories, as if these driven people infect each other with their passions. This story is pleasant to mull over — it has a good aftertaste, meaning that I liked to play with the images it put in my head. I read it out loud to my husband as he was making dinner, and found that, on a second read, I enjoyed watching for interconnections and speculating about them.