Rating: 3 stars
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Max and Chad fell in love at eighteen and formed a band. That band, Euphoria, rose to the heights of the music charts and popularity in the 80s. Although still very much in love, Max and Chad’s romance hit hard times just five years later, due to the pressures of being rock stars and Chad’s addiction to drugs and alcohol. Both their relationship and the band dissolved in an explosion of pain and betrayal.
Now, twenty years later, Max, a wealthy music writer and producer, receives a mix tape from Chad, its message clear. He wants a reunion with Max and their old band. And on New Year’s Eve, the concert Chad had always wanted their band to play. Will Max take one more chance on a love he has never forgotten or will old wounds keep the lovers separated forever?
Subtle Innuendos is a short story in the Mixed Tape series from MLR Press. At 64 pages, this is one story that could benefit from a much longer version than the one that was published. Basically a story of two young lovers reunited after twenty years apart, I felt that Z. Allora had the basic structure for a good story but none of the musculature needed to fill it out.
The story starts in springtime in New York City in 1986 when the boys are eighteen, then flashes forward to the present as a forty-five-year-old Max receives his mix tape in the mail. The narrative flips back and forth between the past and the present, revealing bits and pieces of the boys’ lives. I don’t mind this style of writing, especially when it is well done. My problem here is that the author doesn’t spend enough time in either era to really give us a taste of the men’s relationship or back history. Instead of depth, what we are given is more in the nature of snippets or flash fiction and that just doesn’t do the job. Allora tells us about Chad’s addictions and gives us pretty much one scene to demonstrate said addiction. But in order for us to feel the angst and pain this causes to both men we need much more than casual statement and one explosive outburst. The same goes for Max’s continued feeling of love for Chad, even after 20 years apart. Max still has his pictures and feelings for Chad, but those emotions never feel authentic because we are not given the scenes necessary to bring those feelings alive for us.
There just is no depth here, either of characterization or plot. Had this story been longer, that would have given Allora the necessary space needed to fill out both characterization and plot, both of which are needed to enrich her story and the reader’s enjoyment as well. This is a nice story, but it could have been wonderful. Recommended for fans of Z. Allora and the rock star genre.
Cover Art by Deana Jamroz. Lovely cover, works for the story inside.