Ex Machina Press: Silent Voices Volume 1
Consider the current global mind-set: the acquisition of diminishing resources under thinly disguised imperialism, the uber consolidation of commerce, the pronounced struggle of every person for her/himself - and how in the end this leads us to shrug our collective shoulders and be resigned to our shared fate of... whatever.
With such pressures weighing upon our consciousness, the next things to vanish will be the ability examine how these changes affect us, define us, and most importantly, the need to have our stories told. The significance of the Everyman overcoming adversity, and the need to tell the tale is addressed in Silent Voices Volume I (2005 Ex Machina Press), an anthology of diverse fiction edited by Peter A. Balaskas.
Each one of these eleven stories, though drawn from a vast pool of talent, present the same scenario: a protagonist faced with impossible odds, redefines her/himself with acceptance and introspection, rises above ordinary, but tragic circumstances to become a finer, wiser being for the experience.
Beginning with Elizabeth’s Orndorff’s “Bathroom Cleaner,” an absorbing account of an elderly black woman’s spiritual journey through the ritual cleaning of a bathroom in a busy beauty parlor; to Michelle Mellon’s “Nameless,” (the 2005 Silent Voices Contest Winner), the story of a terminally ill woman who spends her last days recording the forgotten names of slaves in an old chapel; to Edward Belfar’s “A View of the Fireworks,” a splendid day in the life of an academic trying to come to terms with his daughter’s death while dealing with his own mental collapse; to Jason’s Siegel’s “Cosmic Possibilities” (the best story in this collection), an astute multilayered chronicle of five beings approaching death at the exact same moment. All of these stories give the reader back the one thing that has been missing: an opportunity to “hear” what needs to be said, and the time to contemplate the lessons that can be learned.
A second volume is in the works (Spring 2006). In these days of accelerated down-spiraling, it’s fortunate that a collection like Silent Voices successfully re-introduces a precious commodity back into contemporary literature: the need and the right to be heard in the vacuum. I look forward to the next installment.
(Silent Voices, 2005 Ex Machina Press, LLC, http://www.exmachinapress.com, $14.00, 124 pages, 0-9772763-0-9)