Wednesday, August 25, 2010

THUG by Gail Simone, Masked Anthology, Lou Anders

THUG by Gail Simone, Masked

Reading Gail Simone's offering in the Lou Anders edited Masked really blew me away.

We meet Alvin Becker who is a particularly large young man - in tallness and in muscle. The story is written in Alvin's words, and we read it in journal format. The writing is painstakingly detailed and is a feat of genius on Ms. Simone's behalf.

Opening two sentences:

hello, my name is alvin becker but i guess you know that already becuz i am the only one that will read. my pee oh said i wasn't learning from my mistakes so I should keep a JOURNAL.

In just thirteen pages we are told the deep and complex story of Alvin's life and how he came to be THUG. Viewed from the outside, without the benefit of his story, we would see him as a bad guy, a bruiser, not a pleasant person, someone always in trouble, bullying others, someone who will only work as a heavy for an Evil Villain.

Yet, Alvin doesn't hold back when telling his story. The simplicity of his language, his utter guilelessness, all serve to give us an insight into the mind of what outsiders would view as a monster. What we find instead is a young man who has a strict code which he holds within himself and one that he never ever lets go of. His dedication to the memory of his mother and that one girl he didn't manage to help when he was only a kid, forms the basis of the rest of his life.

THUG is an extremely likable and intense short story that both lifted me up and made me sniffle into a hankie - as a reader I felt deeply about Alvin within a short space of time. I felt invested in him, his actions and I hoped that things would go well for him.

Ms. Simone proves in this short story that she understands the dynamics of creating an engaging and sympathetic character, but also effortlessly draws the reader into the character's world, showing you the other side of the coin and making you root for the THUG.

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