Alibi V.13 No.32 • Aug 5-11, 2004 

alt.press

Did you catch that popular black comedy Fight Club a few years back? If in addition to making expensive bath soap out of fat stolen from liposuction clinics, the subversive heroes of that film had turned their ambition to producing a periodical of startling fiction and articles, the Los Angeles-based quarterly Small Doggies might have been the result.

Kicking off the second issue is Neil Mooney's "A Quiet Day at the Office" in which Jimmy's slobby manager, Bob, calls all four boutique employees to the window to start a wager as to how many times a dozing junky across the street will have to save the bowl of chili on his lap before it hits the sidewalk. Well-crafted dialogue communicates humor, ugliness and humanity.

Trinie Dalton's "Teacher" is a seamless continuation of the same cynical malaise, in which a middle school teacher does drugs during her free time and refrains from saying what's really on her mind with the other teachers: "’My butt hole is sore from having sex,' I'd say while we ate our yogurts and carrot sticks together."

In Tom Burkett's gripping "Be Zealous Therefore," a young boy goes out into the back yard in the evening with a flashlight and finds a shooting victim, still alive, and armed, under a tree. Andy may not be entirely sane, courtesy of his fundamentalist teachings. Rather than alerting his family, he revels in the opportunity to minister to the dangerous man whom he thinks God has set out for him to usher into the next world.

Lightening up the literary lunacy is Kory Lanphear's essay, "Sets, Sects and Sex: Does Anybody Wanna, Like, Hang Out and Maybe Start a Cult or Something?" "Sects" addresses the fact that people in cults generally get in on a lot of wild sex in the bargain, so it might not be such a bad idea to, you know, start one and stuff.

Michael Marcus' suspenseful tale "Operation: Readiness" puts the reader in the boots of a private on guard duty who also happens to be a drug addict, wavering toward shooting his way out of a surprise inspection in the middle of the night if he doesn't make the grade. "’Martin, the policy regarding the WSA?' This was easy: Whites, Speed and Acid. I desperately wanted to tell them how I had worked these abbreviations, since half the base was on drugs."

Jon Furmanski's article on the history and cultural significance of two-headed dogs is painstakingly researched and stranger than fiction, including the scoop on a performing two-headed miniature pinscher hoax known during the 1800s as "Alistair and Schwitz" and the historical use of the two-headed dog as a symbol for the conjoined beasts of capitalism and militarism.

Smart and dangerously honest, the 17 pieces of writing culled together in this second issue of Small Doggies are utterly unpredictable and superbly executed.