The slackers of local author N. Frank Daniels' short story "Acid Redux" are living free, tripping hard and in danger of crashing even harder. They might be lost souls, but as part of the short-story collection Santi: Lives of Modern Saints, they also might save a life.
Daniels' protagonist, Luke, is a twentysomething still bopping along in a state of arrested development, yet wary enough of his lifestyle's pitfalls that he ends up as a caretaker for his less experienced, party-crazy friends. Three hits into his latest trip, Luke can still sniff trouble: "I look out the back door and Corey and Hank and Jonas, my little brother, are all out there in the yard tackling each other and doing somersaults, a general carousing that is usually reserved for 12-year-old girls ... This immediately sets off alarm bells. If the cops drove by and saw grown-ass men wrestling and doing cartwheels in the middle of the night we'd immediately be targets for hassle."
They're a free-spirited flock that could use some shepherding and Luke feels compelled to look after his group of self-imposed exiles from the mainstream.
"To me, modern saints are those who are not necessarily preaching the gospel, so to speak, but are taking care of each other on a day-to-day basis," Daniels says. "There really is not enough of that left in the world – people taking care of each other – and so when you can write a story where this sort of thing comes naturally, it really speaks to the innate saintliness of human beings as a whole."
Daniels co-edited the collection with Luca Dipierro of Black Arrow Press, who conceived the idea while on vacation in Italy with his wife, Rachel Bradley. (Her photos accompany the book's stories.) A fan of Medieval literature, Dipierro became fascinated with the genre of hagiography and its emphasis on execution over expression.
"Art back then meant respecting a number of rules. I like the idea of having constraints, of working inside a genre, an old, apparently dead genre like hagiography. As a writer I don't believe in total freedom. I believe in working within limitations."
Santi: Lives of Modern Saints. Daniels, Dipierro and Bradley will read from and discuss the book along with fellow contributor Danni Iosello, Thurs., April 10. 7 p.m. A Cappella Books. 484-C Moreland Ave. 404-681-5128. www.acappellabooks.com. Sat., April 12. 7:30 p.m. Wordsmiths Books. 545 N. Decatur St., Decatur. 404-378-7166. www.wordsmithsbooks.com.
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