“Axis of Symmetry”* by Josh Green

*Axis of Symmetry: the idea that a line passes through something and makes the figures on both sides a mirror image of each other.

“There’s that famous scene in Scarface, the bathtub dismemberment scene, which always scared the bejesus out of my sister and me, having shown us the true underbelly of humanity. Suddenly I was living it…”

For week 36 of the 2015 Deal Me In challenge, I drew the eight of spades, leading me to Josh Green’s story “Axis of Symmetry” from his collection “Dirtyville Rhapsodies.” I’ve covered one other story from this book back in May on Bibliophilopolis – “The Delusional Mr. Necessary,” which I really enjoyed. This story was much darker and shorter. Now in its fifth year, Deal Me In is an annual short story reading challenge (explained here). My list of stories I’m reading this year, with links to those I’ve posted about thus far, may be found here.

The basic plot of this story is not a new one. It’s the details that are unique. Two recovering addicts, our narrator Peter and a math teacher named Melinda (who’s chosen poorly in terms of her husband – a quintessential jealous brute named Tony), are sharing their recovery journey together when romantic sparks fly, leading to trouble.

“Tony wasn’t exactly irrational at first, just pissed like any dejected asshole deserves to be. The last five years with Melinda, he’d had the caveman complex that evokes jealously whenever his woman strolls the sidewalk, shops the fancy mall, grabs a coffee before teaching math—any exposure to the outside world that couldn’t be moderated by his imposing watchfulness.”

Probably after seeing the story’s title and reading the quotation I started with you’re fearing the worst In regards to how the story ends. It’s not as bad as you might think, though. At least I didn’t think so. It IS bad though, just not in the way I was expecting. Be forewarned. For my part, I enjoy the writer’s style and plan on reading the remaining stories in this collection, either as part of Deal Me In 2016, or just “recreationally.”
The book may be found at Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Dirtyville-Rhapsodies-Josh-Green/dp/1937056635

Eight of spades image found at http://designtaxi.com/news/361382/A-Beautiful-Deck-Of-Poker-Cards-Created-By-54-Top-Artist/


  1. hkatz said,

    September 11, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    “Probably after seeing the story’s title and reading the quotation I started with you’re fearing the worst In regards to how the story ends.”

    No kidding 🙂 I knew about the scene in the movie beforehand and made it a point not to watch. But I can handle things better in books (generally) than having a visual forced on me on screen.

    A character like Tony unfortunately tends to lead to violent endings, but I’m intrigued about how this story ends (in the sense that it’s bad, but not necessarily in an expected way).

    I’m reading a collection now that I think you’ll like – Hard-Boiled: An Anthology of American Crime Stories (ed. Pronzini & Adrian). Some of the stories are also quite dark and end with a punch to the gut.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jay said,

      September 14, 2015 at 2:06 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation regarding “Hard-Boiled.” I’ll make a note of that one – even if I’m not much of a mystery/crime reader I seem to be coming into contact with them more often lately.

      I honestly do plan to read the others stories in this book. Maybe I’ll just plow through them this year and not “save” any for my next deck of Deal Me In stories (it’s not like I’m in short supply of reading material for that project…) From the two stories I’ve read thus far, my impression is probably favorable enough to recommend it, but I’d like a bigger sample size before I suggest others spend their own money on something. 🙂


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