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Angel of Manslaughter
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Angel Of Manslaughter

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Cindy Rosmus’s ANGEL OF MANSLAUGHTER Reviewed

By A.M. Stickel, 4.29-5.1.07

 

     The ANGEL OF MANSLAUGHTER will slice and dice your spirit, then feed you your thoughts in a spicy stew of 15 stories. Editor and author Cindy Rosmus opens her short-story selection with one of the briefest introductions a reader will ever experience, her expression both sincere and funny. The tales introduced, however, are serious stuff.

     Rosmus’s hard-edged writing style is spontaneous, unpretentious, and geared toward adults, rather than the 14-and-under set. The flavor is urban and blue-collar, rather than suburban and white-collar, East Coast rather than West. This dark, sludgy slipstream—not mainstream—body of work, not literary at all, is replete with deadly imagery.

     “…only in Jersey can you smell it…of something being barbecued alive.” (pg.60)

     Story protagonists tend to be seriously flawed sufferers in a claustrophobic milieu providing few happy endings. Among the plethora of characters, few are trivial. Smoky, rundown neighborhood bars, sleazy apartments, sham weddings, and trashed parks are the backdrop for these raw souls battling the demons of drugs, alcohol, parental neglect, and a variety of other evils. Knives, fists, and rape are the weapons of choice, although invective runs a close second.

     “‘I’m sicka this shit. I’m sicka you.’” (pg.84)

     Two stories hint at the supernatural, these being “The Base and Despised,” featuring a young dad’s unrequited love for a hottie turned healer, and “Eat the Worm,” with Mozart as an alcoholic’s muse. Several other offerings deal with adolescent angst in an offbeat, amusing manner bordering on laugh-until-you-cry tragicomedy.

     “Zilenski is a Scumbag would be engraved on her tombstone.” (pg.55)

     Vehicular manslaughter is the theme of “Yellow Mama,” also the name of Rosmus’s web ‘zine. It revolves around a man drawn to two different women, and unable to decide between his beautiful, but jealous, alcoholic wife and his newly sober, mousy soul-mate.

     What could make a set of stories about outcasts and/or losers appealing to a reader? Perhaps the answer lies in how honest we are with ourselves about urban Americana in the modern age. Rosmus pulls no punches concerning the background from which she writes; she does not see it through rose-colored glasses, without any quirks or prejudices.

     “From this nightmare there was no waking up.” (pg.68)

     Her characters, born innocent, reared in closed communities paying lip service to morality, have been warped by the reality of hard-scrabble circumstances. Attempting to escape through alcohol, sex, drugs, and self-abuse, they end up going nowhere…except jail, or, for those who believe in it, hell. We read about their exploits in the news, where they fuel gossip and inspire sympathetic prayers…but almost never empathy.

     “‘It was a bad joke, like how do you load a truck full of dead babies.’” (pg.71)

     If you’re not ready for the rough stuff, then bypass this buy. But, if you’re into true grit, visit the "Book Purchase" page at www.blackpetals.net  and order this $9 nonangelic collection from Fossil Publications or through the author, crosmus@earthlink.net. Then, thank your lucky stars your own history doesn’t approach that of the characters therein…or if it does, God help you.

 

Angel of Manslaughter is published by Fossil Publications of Wichita, Kansas.

 

 Also available from Cindy at crosmus@earthlink.net

Cover artwork by Tim Ramstad, BP Art Director

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In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2021