In this collection of two short stories and a novella by Scott Semegran, the male characters—boys and young men—pursue their dreams as they struggle with life’s difficulties.
The two stories, “The Great and Powerful, Brave Raideen,” and “Good Night, Jerk Face” stand alone. The former features a boy who nearly makes a grave mistake after he tires of being bullied. “Good Night, Jerk Face” follows a teen boy on the cusp of 16 who wants nothing so much as a particular model of car. When he takes a job at a restaurant to earn money to buy the car, he soon finds himself in all sorts of humorous, albeit potentially troubling, predicaments, such as his efforts to drive a manual stick shift delivery truck with no prior experience.
Sixteen other pieces make up the novella “The Discarded Feast.” These entries follow young roommates Seff and Alfonso, two 20-somethings eking out an existence from their earnings at the Pasta Warehouse as they fantasize about a better life and ponder their futures.
Semegran’s work is evocative and replete with relatable, recognizable characters (Sam’s doting grandparents; Sarah, the aging eternal hippy who regales others with tales from her youth) who find comfort in friendship. The narratives offer spot-on description delivered in a voice with a natural flair for scene and story. For example, in “Good Night, Jerk Face,” Sam describes his grandmother as “thin as a stalk of wheat, her left hand gripping a highball glass of scotch on the rocks, her right hand pinching a Virginia Slims 120 cigarette with an ash two inches long.”
A certain innocent hopefulness winds its way through each of these stories in which the characters want something, both tangible (money) and intangible (to understand where they are headed in life and how they will get there). With its descriptive flair and flashes of humor, Boys offers an engaging read—one short fiction fans are sure to enjoy.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.