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Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

420 Characters - Lou Beach Rating: 4* of fiveThe Book Description: Within this collection of miniature stories, entire worlds take shape—some like our own, some hallucinatory fairylands--populated by heartsick cowboys, random criminals, lovers and drifters. In a dazzling narrative constellation, Beach’s characters contend with the strange and terrible and beautiful in life, and no outcome is certain. Begun as a series of Facebook status updates, 420 Characters marks a new turn in an acclaimed artist and illustrator’s career, and features original collages by the author. My Review: “The Bryce Method” is named in honor of an online friend who introduced me to the technique, is a summary opinion, plus a short line or a quote from each story, together with a rating for the story. Here, since each story is essentially a paragraph, it's useless! But my summary opinion, I think, is still useful: Form following function is a nice idea in the material world, but can be a but precious in art. I think the author, in this collection, aimed for philosophical and hit it most often, but when he missed, he smacked nose-first into portentousness.A lovely object, this book, just delightful in is cloth-covered boards, its blind-embossed decorations, its gold-foil stamped title, all wrapped in a very pretty four-color belly band with one of the author's cool collages on it. The text is set, 420 characters a page, in pretty and readable type, the paper is thicker than usual in today's budget-conscious world, and there are four-color mid-signature wraps of more of his collages; the design is quite nice! It speaks well of the publisher to have done this good a job on a story collection. (Boring endsheets, though, really blah gamboge things. Wish they'd done something better there.)Since there's no way to quote from the book, I'll offer this complete story from page 86:I rise at 3am to walk my bladder to the bathroom, then return to bed and wait for my face and pillow to come to an agreement. I lie on my right, my left, my stomach, my back, as if attempting an even tan, until I find the Goldilocks spot. The only sound is the hum of the planet, and the whistling and chirping of the little birds who live in my nostrils.Any possessor of a fifty-plus year old bladder/prostate combo pack is likely to identify with that.And because I love it, also because I suspect my fellow readers around here will resonate with it, here's the story from page 133:I lay the book on the floor, open to the middle. It's a lovely volume, green leather covers, engraved endpapers. I remove my shoes and step into it up to my ankles, knees, hips, chest, until only my head is showing and the pages spread around me and the words bob up and down and bump into my neck, and the punctuation sticks to my chin and cheeks so I look like I need a shave.Those aren't quotes, mind; those are the entire stories, the entire contents of the pages in question. And they are either gems of lapidary poetic prose, or schnibbles of vacuous nonsense. If you're in camp B, molest not the book, but camp A folks should probably just do One-Click right now because this isn't a good library borrow, it's a mineminemine book. I'm already plotting how to keep the library copy I have....