Short Story Review: “Heart-Shaped” by Manuel Royal

1 of 5 stars.

This blessedly short tale is a spot-on re-enactment of the hetero-sexist, macho-misogynistic rant from the drunk guy in the bar that one actively evades and tries to ignore. The unrelenting 2nd person narration from said drunk guy fails to allow any countering points to the cliche battle-of-the-sexes diatribe, which means there’s no story here. Just sexist ranting. Perhaps trying for “humor”, but not achieving anything beyond “tired.”

Lost my thread. Okay, the human race–yeah, put your hand down. I know, sexual dimorphism goes back a billion years. But plants and bugs and prairie dogs ain’t advanced enough to get fucked-up in the head about it. So: the human race. Split in two by Mother Nature’s genetic axe, and that’s a bloody, vertical wound. Each half can never be a whole. There’s always blood between the two at the places they touch, but the alternative is drying up untouched and withering to a husk, and ergo there’s the War, and hence, us. Vigilance!

There can be a purpose to include a detestable, antiquated POV when the greater story calls for it either situationally or historically. Often, other POVs balance or ground it. Unfortunately, none of that is offered here. Nor any real information about the speaker, and nothing about the person he is speaking to whom the narrator doesn’t know.

This tale appears in Abbreviated Epics, a Third Flatiron Anthology, edited by Juliana Rew.
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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