USEREVIEW 037 (Capsule): God Damned Avalon
Paul Edward Costa
God Damned Avalon (Mosaic Press, 2020)
ISBN 978-1-77161-532-7 | 108 pp | $17.95 CAD
Paul Edward Costa’s debut flash fiction collection, God Damned Avalon, is as chock-full of switchbacks as its paradoxical title — invoking a paradise that divinity has forsaken — should lead you to expect. Earning the name of their genre, the tales in this book are lightning-quick, though the subjects they depict sometimes span centuries, the rises and falls of whole civilizations. For instance, “The Lone and Level Sands Will Stretch Far Away” (which takes its name, of course, from a line in Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’) tells in first-person plural of a society that is endlessly endeavouring to build their cities ever higher, lest they be swallowed up by rising sands. Halfhearted promises fall from the sky, slips of paper that say, “Perhaps one day you’ll reach heaven,” though this possibility remains remote for the faceless characters. In the reference to Shelley, the earnestly ambivalent fatalism, and the epic proportions of these short, often speculative, tales, I’m reminded of another debut fiction collection from 2020 by an Ontario writer: Jeremy Colangelo’s Beneath the Statue (Now or Never Publishing). There must be something in the Great Lakes.
Try “Green Martyrdom,” which should give you ample sense of the erratically allegorical and ambiguously sinister self-reflexivity of Costa’s prose.