REDEMPTION UNDER ICE: A REVIEW OF WINTERSWIM BY RYAN BRADLEY
I liked a lot of Winterswim, and offer this possible redemption to my main criticism of official and parental cluelessness: take the novella as a political statement. After all, the story takes place in Wasilla, Alaska, the town that gave us Sarah Palin. In fact they made her mayor—TWICE. It would be unkind to suggest that everybody in Wasilla is a knucklehead (only 651 people voted for her the first time; 909 the second). Still more said “yes” than said “no” to having the mother of Trig and Track as their mayor. We all may have been better off if they’d elected another of the town’s famous denizens—porn “actress” April Flowers.
In the final analysis Winterswim is the product of a talented writer who’s given us a violent and explosive cross between Boys Life magazine and Penthouse Forum. A little more plot and a little less sex. It reads, in the end, like a letter to the editor of High Society or some other glossy porno mag: “She reached behind her back and unhooked it while the pastor kissed her breasts. His hand reached down and undid her jeans. His fingers pushed into her panties. She had shaved in anticipation of the night, and his fingers glided across her skin and and (sic) then slid inside. Pastor Long… crawled between her legs. Pratt unzipped his jeans and… played with himself while the pastor…”
It treats some serious topics: addiction, redemption, rape, abuse. It even teases out a rare and special Native mythology overwritten by Christianity. But it’s glossy. It’s porn, with a bit of plot and backstory.
by Ryan W. Bradley
Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2014
172 pages, $11.26
Reviewed by Ben East