Wing Walking, Out Bad, and Ayiti.

The first short story of 2014 just went out to some top tier literary reviews and already got a rejection! It's about a kid who graduates high school in the 50's and decides to take a year off before college. He spends the summer painting the house and outbuildings of his old man's farm property, and he lives on the farm while doing this. He's paid for this endeavor and he uses the money to soup up a 1942 Ford coupe, starting with a 1957 Canadian truck engine, bored out, Isky cam, etc. It's also the first story in a collection entitled Hot Rods from Hell. The boy, Billy Altair, has a new 33rpm stereo he got for his birthday, but only one record: Victory at Sea, a very symphonic long play album, and it fills the old farmhouse and surrounding environs with big booming music. One day, he sees a colorful biplane buzzing the place, and the story gains momentum. It surprised me, the way this story skidded around some turns and the way it ended, too. It's about 4,500 words and it's called Wing Walker.

Out Bad is a book by Donald Charles Davis and it is, in a word, electrifying. He rode with the Mongols, a heavy-duty outlaw group in California and other states. It's mainly about the targeting of the Mongols by federal agencies, and its title comes from the ejection of a member by stripping him of patch and privileges and any further association with the club.

It's a self-published book, and it suffers from odd page makeup in places, plenty of typos, and mixup of sentences, but it's a good book through all of that, by a very intelligent author, and may even be an Important Book. Journalist Davis chroncicles the moral, financial and criminal excesses of the undercover agents who penetrated the club.  The flagrant abuse of power and tax-generated money is shocking and disgusting, especially when the targets of that abuse are disenfranchised Americans. Mongols and other clubs are easy marks for the federal agencies that went after them. And the people within those agencies are the ones who could not stand up under harsh investigative procedures themselves--or even fair, unbiased procedures.

Ayiti by Roxane Gay is visceral and eye-opening. Packs a bunch of wallops, and pulls none. The title is the Haitian native pronunciation of Haiti, and however it's pronounced, you will not think of this place of poverty and beauty the same after reading the series of gritty vignettes about explosive anger, pain and the inescapable dogfight of daily existence. She is the author of An Untamed State, available for pre-order on Amazon