David Philip Mullins

Greetings From Below

Logan Parker Collinhas quotedlast year
TO FIND A BEAUTIFUL COLLECTION OF STORIES IN A PILE OF manuscripts is, for any judge of any contest, a wonderful surprise, a kind of revelatory experience. This comes in part from knowing––as most writers know––that a good short story is a balancing act, a tightrope walk of innumerable elements all working together for a short duration to draw out and reveal a particular mystery. It’s one thing to read a good story in a magazine, singular and alone, but it’s another to find an entire book of them, fully realized, each one honed to perfection, neat and tidy, into a collection that holds together like one of those great pop albums of yore, producing a cohesive aesthetic experience. What a pleasure to find not only a strong collection of stories, but a distinctive voice, clear and precise, and a vision that is unique and new while at the same time rooted in the traditions of the form, echoing Ernest Hemingway, Frank O’Connor, Flannery O’Connor, and all of the other great practitioners who took the risk of writing short fiction. As Frank O’Connor pointed out, each attempt at writing a story contains “the possibility of a new form as well as a possibility of a complete fiasco.”
Well, David Philip Mullins risked a fiasco and instead created a highly original collection of short stories. Mullins understands that inventiveness arises from acute attention to the demands of each story and respect for the material itself. Every writer finds a way into the work: Chekhov leaned close and, with his ear cupped, caught the intimate conversations between lovers––and serfs and masters––watching them move in what seemed to be isolated chambers of their desires. Borges sealed himself into a diving bell of his own fantastic style, plunging deep into seas of time and culture. Alice Munro maps expansive topographies of relationships, mostly female, using her utterly and deceptively unique
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