Short Stories
Tales of a Sad, Fat Wordman

by Ralph Dennis
Cutting Edge, January 2020, $7.99

Tales of a Sad, Fat Wordman collects a poem and five short stories by Ralph Dennis. Dennis is best known as the author of the Hardman private eye novels published in the 1970s. His work has been revitalized over the last few years by the efforts of author Lee Goldberg and his publishing house, Brash Books. The stories are more literary than criminal, but they are of interest to both Dennis’ readers and the larger mystery community because they present a snapshot of Dennis’ literary abilities as well as his tragic life. The first story, “Region of Innocence,” first published in the Spring 1955 issue of the Carolina Quarterly, is a sideways coming-of-age story about two young men serving in the navy during the Korean War. There are three tales about a fictional writer that are funny, sad, and very much like Kurt Vonnegut’s hapless Kilgore Trout. The collection’s final story, “Wind Sprints,” is a melancholy and self-proclaimed autobiographical tale that is a perfect mate for Dennis’ imperfect life.

Ben Boulden
Teri Duerr
January 2020
Cutting Edge