Fishing by P. Gardner Goldsmith
Shadowridge Press (February 2017)
132 pages; $10.99 paperback
Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
P. Gardner Goldsmith’s Fishing is a hallucinatory, Kafka-esque, surreal ride which invokes reflections of Charles Beaumont and Rod Serling by way of Ray Garton and even Richard Laymon. Gardner’s terse, tightly-controlled prose thrums with drive and energy, and even though it’s precise and efficient, it occasionally breaks out into a lyricism invoking ghosts of Ray Bradbury himself.
Fishing tells us two parallel stories. One of two girls—in love with each other, during a time when this is far more taboo than now—fleeing abuse and persecution during the tumultuous sixties. In their flight, they fall into the orbit of a charismatic cult leader and become trapped in a hellish existence no better—indeed, far worse—than what they escaped. One of the girls becomes this cult leader’s personal plaything, while the other desperately schemes of escape from their plight.
The second story is of a sociopathic murder who has escaped from a prison transport in the seventies. While fleeing through the woods to freedom (killing along the way), this fiend not only reminisces on the glory days of revolution and the sixties and life on that same small commune, but also obsesses over a teenage girl who has become the emblem of everything that is good and pure in life.
It’s amazing what Goldsmith manages to accomplish in such small space. He weaves an intricate, thoughtful and suspenseful tale that leads completely away from where you think it’s going. Get this now, strap yourself in, and enjoy the ride.