A Consideration of Wenclas’ Vodka Friday Night (2019)

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Kirk Fannin was the dangerous one– yet for a moment Stacey Shemke was the aggressor. (Wenclas, Vodka Friday Night)

§.00 Karl Wenclas’ short fiction Vodka Friday Night was the first incarnation of what the author has described as the ‘3D Story,’ a self-conscious attempt to generate a new, vitalistic literary model.

§.01 The plot—sharp as a razor—revolves around a rogues gallery operating in the seedy underworld of Detroit after the murder of ruthless gang leader named Lenny Z.

§.02 At the first, the style is breathless, almost entirely (and presumably intentionally) devoid of punctuation save the period mark and the occassional comma and features a interesting utilization of bullet points (1. 2. 3.) to delineate character perspective (which I induce to be the genesis of the 3D label). The brisk yet vivid characterization and punchy, clipped descriptions like “He looked mean, and was.” or “Kirk drove hard. Night fast.” harken back to the pulp neo-noir of the 60s and 70s from magazines like ADAM. However, certain lines stick out like weeds on a manicured lawn, such as, “Kirk knew Lenny Z’s reputation and knew the man was serious. He looked serious. Deadly and serious.” If a man looks serious the reader will internalize it the first time. Other lines appear to have been missed in the editing process, such as, “The opera had been a modern updating-.”

The gunman in the car behind Boyd’s took more deliberate aim, his gloved hand– an expensive yellow soft leather glove– squeezing the trigger red jets of flame glimpsed within the barrel gun kicking a row of shots sent off like hopeful children toward their destination. (Wenclas)

§.03 Despite these minor problems, the overall effect is one of tension, speed and intensity. Its a thoroughly rousing tale of egoism, crime, passion, loyalty and betrayal with a colorful cast of characters, told in sparse, machine-gun’d prose and one which I would highly recommend.

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