Eugen Bacon’s work is cheeky with a fierce intelligence, in prose that’s resplendent, delicious, dark and evocative. NPR called her novel Claiming T-Mo ‘a confounding mysterious tour de force’. The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories imbues the same lushness in a writerly language that is Bacon’s own. This peculiar hybrid of the untraditional, the extraordinary within, without and along the borders of normalcy will hypnotise and absorb the reader with tales that refuse to be labelled. The stories in this collection are dirges that cross genres in astounding ways. Over 20 provocative tales, with seven original to this collection, by an award-winning African Australian author.
A GOOD BALL
“The game is alive,” coughed the score worm. It illuminated with body shimmers who was winning. It was the Cyclops.
The amphitheater erupted.
An umpire blew his horn and the third quarter of the ball game started.
The way the game played was by each group of ten players dodging a ball that was a human skull hurled by the opposing team. Wear had nearly leveled the boned shape to a smooth oval. When it struck a victim, they were banished to the sin bin, sometimes for eons, unless a release deal was struck by song, delivered in prose poetry.
The first quarter had seen the Troika lose a trinity of players and one-third. A third because the precocious fullback was only a child.
During the break, the Troika had put a valiant effort to rescue their trinity, if not the one-third. Their lead siren, a third eye for the nose and fur all over her three bodies, understood the value of a trio. She sang in light waves that accelerated in orthodox lines across the one end of the amphitheater to the other and found refraction in the audience. Resonance jumped between bodies, patterns and frequency emitting a synchronous melody:
Earth stories oblivious to time and space are not our element. Like the boy with cowlick hair and a briefcase on his lap: he is a terrorist. A suicide vest caresses his chest. He smiles. His eyes are a palimpsest swollen with poems about phantom virgins floating in songline. They flow in monochrome, infographics that cascade into the working sea of his creed. No contrition or penance, just a magnificent white bird, yellow-beaked. It supplicates on bended knee but its droppings are full of calligraphy. Text ricochets from bird poop, hopping and skipping in telescopic trails of full stops, semicolons and em dashes. No adjectives as the bomb erupts.
At the end of the tune, the score worm coughed and announced the verdict: “Your song was not quick to transition between notes. It was lacking in the depiction of humankind’s diversity.”
THE ROAD TO WOOP WOOP
by Eugen Bacon
RELEASE DATE: DEC 1, 2020
GENRE: Collection / Speculative Fiction / Dark Fantasy
BOOK PAGE: https://www.meerkatpress.com/books/the-road/
BUY LINKS: Meerkat Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Eugen Bacon talks about her favorite writerly mentor
Make up a story … For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.
– Toni Morrison, The Nobel Lecture in Literature, 1993
Toni Morrison is a bold and riveting mentor who has over the years shaped my voice. Through her body of works she’s one of the most celebrated authors of the 21st century.
I look with humility and astonishment at what readers are saying about my work, a recent one published on Publishers Weekly on The Road to Woop Woop, and it overwhelms me that they see my stories as ‘commanding and visionary’, rendered in a ‘distinct, poetic voice’. Award-winning author Keith Rosson wrote that my collection ‘pushes boundaries, blurs genres and folklores’… in a ‘dazzling, unique voice’. Drawing from these readerly perceptions that bear similarity across this and other works, I recognise Morrison’s powerful influence that helped unstitch my fear.
Her own bold writing spotlights mood, reorients prose, courts characterisation, and this writer and mentor continues to seduce me, encouraging me to be ambitious, adventurous, to adore language.
In the preface to A Mercy (2008), Morrison said how most books she had written were questions she couldn’t answer, how to put down the first word she didn’t have a plan. She said: ‘I sometimes have a character, but I can’t do anything with it until the language arrives.’
Language was very important to her, and she has taught me this in her distinct style that bears the major signature of the subversive role of language in transforming acts of writing for Black people about Black people.
Morrison spoke in her Nobel lecture on the vitality of language as lying in its ability to “limn the actual, imagined and possible lives of its speakers, readers, writers”. According to Morrison, language “arcs towards the place where meaning may lie”.
In “Make up a story”, one of my favourite quotes by Morrison—and she has many—she invites me to be bold, to be free, to find immersion in storytelling, where language is a shapeshifting dance, song or interplay.
In The Road to Woop Woop as I write about pain, about passion, loss, breakthrough, splendour or rage, in cross-genre stories that are hybrids within, without and along the borders of normalcy, I gaze upon my worlds in their blackness and light. I look at belief’s wide skirt, model my tales against Morrison and her text and say, with wonder and perhaps nervousness, what a pupil seeking advice might say to her teacher: “Look. See what I’ve written.”
Eugen Bacon is African Australian, a computer scientist mentally re-engineered into creative writing. She’s the author of Claiming T-Mo (Meerkat Press) and Writing Speculative Fiction (Macmillan). Her work has won, been shortlisted, longlisted or commended in national and international awards, including the Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Australian Shadows Awards, Ditmar Awards and Nommo Award for Speculative Fiction by Africans.a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js
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