by L.D. Brodsky
There Goes the Neighborhood
There are two new primates in the zoo these days. Their strange presence provides a unique view for visitors of all stripes and hues, from inveterate guests, who love the primal pageantry, to kids in strollers, backpacks, or on the loose. Even to the grounds crew, keepers, trainers, curators, vets, administration officials, board of directors, the entire phylogenetic ascendancy responsible for making the institution function, it's curious how no attraction in the past — not the escape and eventual recapture of snakes, crocodiles, birds of prey nor the rare birth, in a nonindigenous ecosystem, of panda bears, lions, okapis, or the always zany three-hundred-pound baby elephants, guaranteed to evoke glee in a gaping crowd — has ever captured the imagination of spectators to such a voyeuristic degree.
Attendance has doubled in the last month, directly correlating to the pair's arrival and installation in their glassed-in cage and adjoining arbored refuge, where, lately, the brace has been seen loafing, taking walks hand in hand, seemingly reading what appear to be books in the shade of a newly planted sugar-maple grove, micturating, defecating, copulating, apparently unaware of intrigued audiences constantly rushing up to witness immodest bodily acts.
Fittingly, the local newspaper, whose owner/editor in chief also just happens to be a generous benefactor of the zoo, has devoted a daily column to their goings-on, a ploy that, in its third week, has undeniably accounted for a growth in circulation, an increase, across the board, in its advertising rates. In last Sunday's lead article, reprising events of the new additions to the zoo's animal family, a reporter described the acquisition as a "stroke of genius," a "coup," a "windfall," "perfectly brilliant in conception," "a first for the city, the nation, the global village," "a fitting tribute to the vision of our city's stewards".
"After all," the journalist waxed enthusiastically, "who else ever would have sanctioned, let alone thought of the potential benefits and profits accruing from, putting on public display an in-all-ways-compatible — even down to blood type — pair of perfectly healthy, fertile, nude human beings?" Concluding her exuberant adulation, the avid staff writer pounded her chest, proclaiming, "This is surely one giant leap for mankind."
When you enter L.D. Brodsky’s Catchin’ the Drift o’ the Draft, you find yourself in the surreal world of a master satirist. Imagine staring into a mirror and recognizing your reflection as that of a chimpanzee, before you swing to work on a vine, or consider the possibility that you and your spouse are the newest additions to the ape house at the zoo, where your every move is being scrutinized.
Prepare yourself for Brodsky’s auto-factory-assembly-line worker from south St. Louis, who takes the stage in six pieces that set up a chronological continuity around which the other fictions swirl. His humor is boisterous, whimsical, condemnatory, at times even self-deprecating, his language a study in fractured English that nonetheless debunks conventional wisdom and political correctness, exposing the cant and hypocrisy of 1990s America.
These fast-paced fictions, about persons bedeviled by phobias and physical afflictions arising from the realities of old age, racism, and too-rapid change, are pieces of life that examine the world and revel in its absurdities. If Jonathan Swift, Franz Kafka, and Richard Brautigan could collaborate, the result might be Catchin’ the Drift o’ the Draft, a highly original, satirical, and altogether entertaining collection of forty-one short short fictions. Delight in them.