The Year of the Stolen Bicycle Tire and Other Stories by Andrew Kozma
Smashwords (ebook), 2015
I was given a free copy by the author in exchange for a honest review.
WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT
The Year of the Stolen Bicycle Tire and Other Stories is a collection of weird, beautiful literary fiction containing four stories based in the fictional college town of Martinsville, Florida, as well as Athens, Greece, and Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.
The title story concerns a philosophy professor bent on taking revenge against a bike tire thief, who also happens to be one of his students. In “An Apartment Hunter’s Guide to Martinsville,” a young woman attempts, without luck, to find an apartment and perhaps a friend in her newly-adopted city. “Mile-High Bridge” tells of a couple climbing a mountain to give their cat a wilderness burial, and what they find along the way. Lastly, “The Gypsy” is about a couple in Athens, Greece, just after a city-wide riot, who find a woman who promises to rid them of their bad luck.
Andrew Kozma’s fiction has been published in DIAGRAM, The Cupboard, Fantasy Scroll, and Daily Science Fiction. His book of poems, City of Regret (Zone 3 Press, 2007), won the Zone 3 First Book Award.
It is strangely cold, this May night, where Nathan sits behind his student’s car planning reparable damage. He considers a brick through the living room window but fears being caught as lights spring to life down the street. He considers knocking on the front door, and, after David pulls the door wide, asking ‘Why?’ followed by punching David in the face or stomach, whichever is more accessible. He considers doing simply what he is prepared to do, slash two of the car’s tires, but feels that, though this may be justifiable, it is also less fulfilling. And, still, Nathan does not know, for certain, that it was David who stole his bike tires, on two separate occasions, forcing Nathan to spend money he can’t afford for replacement tired because, unlike his student, he has no car (THE YEAR OF THE STOLEN BICYCLE TIRE)
WHAT I THOUGHT
This is my first time reading Andrew Kozma’s fiction. Some of his poems were included in the poetry anthology, The Best American Poetry 2015 that I reviewed earlier this year.
The Year of the Stolen Bicycle Tire and Other Stories contains four excellent stories. I enjoyed every one and want to read more of Kozma’s fiction.
My two favourite stories are An Apartment Hunter’s Guide to Martinsville and Mile-High Bridge. Both stories are perfect and tick all the boxes great short fiction should. An Apartment Hunter’s Guide to Martinsville is full of strangeness and light and dark tones. There is much going on that isn’t stated in black and white and I loved all the unanswered questions. Mile-High Bridge is quite dark and strange. I loved this story. This one will stay with me for a long time.
I thought The Gypsy was a great story. The tone is slightly lighter than An Apartment Hunter’s Guide to Martinsville and Mile-High Bridge so I enjoyed it a little less. I enjoyed the way the marriage of the two main characters is portrayed, her desperate need to believe the words of the gypsy and his cynicism.
The Year of the Stolen Bicycle Tire is also a good story. I loved the concept of the story, the narrator’s belief that his student stole the tires from his bicycle without any real evidence and his quest for some sort of revenge. Who the hell would steal bicycle tires and leave behind a frame? I liked the way the story is executed and the odd ending. The only issue I had is the narrator, who teaches philosophy, went into off on a philosophical tangent at times, rambling about his theories and other stuff which left me cold. These moments pulled me out of the story. There may be readers who love this stuff though.
I enjoyed The Year of the Stolen Bicycle Tire and Other Stories and would highly recommend this collection.