Up until now, I’ve read a select few stories in this collection. Prior to its completion, I was one of the lucky people to read through some of the submissions, looking for typographical errors and the like. I’ve been singing the praises of the book’s concluding story, claiming that it would be THE story of the collection. Now that I’ve finally read the collection’s opening story, “A Pound of Flesh” by Fred Venturini, I have all the doubt in the world. That isn’t to say Michael Gonzalez‘s “One Shot (Only God Knows)” isn’t worth the kudos, but to lend credence to the claims that Venturini’s story is a strong contender, that I had been promised all along.
“A Pound of Flesh” does everything to you. It holds your hand while you fall in love, it judges you from across the room as you age, and it mourns as you suffer through the end. I shake my head even now, because I want all of that so terribly, and I don’t have it anymore; the endearing wonders of being in a loving relationship. Maybe I’ll find the things again in this story, the things that I’ve longed for for so long, but until then, at the very least, Fred has given me the hope. He’s given me a story that I can live vicariously through.
When my contributor’s copy arrived the other day, I went directly to my story and read through it. I hadn’t read it since the day I’d submitted it, and dreaded seeing it in print from then on. I’m sorry J David Osborne, I just don’t have the confidence you ask of me. I liked my own story for a change. It made me laugh. I was proud of it and felt like, “Yea, maybe my story belongs here after all.” I don’t say that questioning Robb or Livius’s decision to accept my piece, but in my own mind. In my own estimation of belonging. And now, after reading A Pound of Flesh, I’m not so sure anymore. It is, in short, an amazing story.