Lex Williford. Rose Metal Press, $12 chapbook (39p) ISBN 978-1-941628-06-5
The best connected story collections work on two levels. The individual stories stand alone, leaving you satisfied and thinking. But when linked together, they are even stronger, calling back to previous stories, answering previous questions, and offering new ones. Lex Williford’s Superman on the Roof, winner of the Tenth Annual Rose Metal Press Short Short Chapbook Contest, offers this connectedness in concentrated form. The novella-in-flash is comprised of ten stories, each 1,000 words or less. Through great economy, Williford tells the story of loss, grief, and the cycle of violence one family endures. Each short is narrated by Travis, the oldest son of four growing up in 1960s Texas, and each deals with the death of the youngest son Jesse. These are not stories of his death but of the days and years after, full of the sucker-punching details of family life made harder by the death, which is always present and never addressed. It’s these vivid moments that make the collection stand out. Children running naked from their kiddie pool into the street to please their father.