“The Soul as Strange Attractor,” is a collection of stories described by one reader as “literary fiction edged with magic realism elements,” in which, “early stories play out in the background and wings of later,” ones. As the characters speak, their intent is the truth, and they, mostly, take themselves seriously. We need not, but if we share their sincerity, something cardinal, beyond their control, may arise like gravity waves from the edgeless outermost.
The stories are set in the decades after WW II, with a few echoes from earlier times. The anchoring geography is the Sierra Fangoso Mountains, west of Las Cruces, New Mexico, where aeons of adventurers have left trails and marks. The little mountain village of Mudgap, founded on gold fever and lately sustained by military and tourist energy, is prominent. If some readers doubt the existence of places not found on a map, they might consider that neither maps nor dictionaries were passed out with the Ten Commandments. “The Soul as Strange Attractor” doesn’t pretend otherwise.
The stories come from the typical interests of Mudgap residents: blood on the White Sands, childhood pranks, the rending of reality, the tedium of infidelity and self-inspection, tall tales, taller tales, the Viet Nam war, Dr. Reich’s Orgone Accumulator, Buddy Bolden’s lost recordings, space aliens, the true meaning of Christmas, the Crown of Aleppo, suspected ghosts, and, of course, coming of age (or ages). Time is a silent character in all the stories, miming and mugging his way through the scenes, and not in the background either, but largely unnoticed.