Review of “The Girl with Two Left Breasts” by one of Amazon’s Top Customer Reviewers, mrliteral:
Beyond the Stephen Kings, John Grishams and Danielle Steeles, there is a whole bunch of writers who toil quietly and produce quality material, yet never get significant recognition. Such is the case with D.V. Glenn, a writer you’ve probably not heard of. I’ve followed the career of Glenn for over a decade, though his stories have been generally limited to literary journals and the like. At long last, he has come out with a collection of his stories, which will hopefully put more of a spotlight on his writing.
This collection poses an issue for the Amazon reviewer like myself, who knows that Amazon can be restrictive about certain words in reviews. Thus, I refer to this book as The Girl With Two Left B; the review reader can figure out the rest easily enough. Similarly, some of the titles of the short stories can only be indirectly referred to, such as the one that kicks off the book, “The Hypothetical N” This is less a story than an anecdote, and at barely four pages, the shortest tale in the collection. It is probably also the one superfluous story, as the crux of the story is repeated in “Footage”.
It is with the second story, “Metal Dogs”, where things really kick into gear. This story of successful businessman Binder Trogg has shades of the myth of Oedipus. Not with the mother-father-son love triangle, but with the struggle against fate and Oedipus’s grim form of self-mutilation. Unlike Oedipus, however, Binder embraces what he considers his destiny and is willing to forsake a prosperity that he feels is undeserved.
But more than this classical allusion, “Metal Dogs” introduces a theme that recurs throughout these stories. The prinicipal characters (typically black men) find themselves taking self-destructive actions, often allowing the demons of their childhoods (particularly racism and violence) to possess their adult forms. Not that Glenn lets his protagonists off the hook: they may allow their pasts to haunt them, but they also bear responsibility for the lives they choose.
And for those who think “literary fiction” is too serious, Glenn also has a lighter side…at least sort of. There is plenty of humor in these stories but not the jokey punch-line sort, but rather the deeper humor of sharp satire. This is probably most overtly seen in “Kewl Kryptonian” which has Superman depressed and seeking relevance in a world where celebrity is more important than heroism. Other more satirical stories include “The Serial Killer Museum” (also dealing with the cult of celebrity) and “The Relationship Handbook”, though dark humor laces many of the stories. In other stories, horror is the more overwhelming feeling, probably most significantly in “Chantelle’s Braces” which deals with a teenage girl’s crumbling life.
Is this collection for everyone? Probably not. This is not the light entertainment you might expect out of a beach read (not that there’s anything wrong with genre fiction; a quick perusal of my reviews will show my fondness for the field). Nonetheless, if you’re looking for a collection of well-written short stories, you won’t go wrong picking this book