The quintessential character moment in Chris Meeks' collection of stories occurs in "The Holes In My Door." We meet Frank Philo, an obsessive, self-involved man who has driven away his first wife with his "fixations." Frank hears what turns out to be the four shots which have destroyed the front and rear windshields of his Volvo while it sits parked in his garage. Unnerved by this, he blows off a real world second date with a woman he's met online and goes to a gun shop instead, where the sales man talks him into a shotgun. Frank has absolutely no experience with guns, so he drives out to the desert to try out his new toy, and there, while shooting at a sign, he manages to shoot himself in the foot.
Metaphorically speaking, nearly all of Meeks' characters shoot themselves in the foot. His people are average Joes and Janes caught up in relationships that teeter on the brink of failure. Often they manage to rescue themselves, but his characters, particularly the men, are blissfully unaware of their own foibles. This affords the reader the voyeuristic pleasure of cringing on their behalf. Or, when they are being particularly obtuse, of wanting to slap them.
Meeks has a gift for showing how people fail to connect. In "Dracula Slinks Into The Night," we watch Hugh drive his wife Kathleen crazy with his inability to loosen up at a costume party. In the opening passage of "The Farm at 93rd and Broadway," a couple of empty nesters try to communicate their love to one another but end up feeling like they're just not in sync. Meeks illuminates the particular shape of the space between these couples and love's continual urging to bridge those gaps.
In the title story, Spillman, a movie producer who specializes in films with mutants and vampires preying upon cheerleaders and "buxom airline stewardesses," tells us that his life "can't possibly all be coincidence . . . Something has guided me." Meeks immediately punctures the self-importance of that observation, coming as it does from a producer of soft porn. But it's another issue Meeks raises often in his stories--the question of how much is accidental in our lives, and how much do we bring upon ourselves.
Causes Christopher Meeks Supports
Associated Writing Programs