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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Robinson, IL and Other Flash Fiction Stories by Dennis Milam Bensie is the author's compilation of original work, homing in on brief moments of life in bite-sized story format. Each piece reads independently of the next and covers a variety of characters and plot lines. These range from the political drivers that put the ideals of a parent and a teacher at odds through the medium of a first-grader and a cookie jar in Have a Cookie, to My Cousin Deborah where two teen girls getting home perms reveals so much more than just corkscrew curls; another plays through the highs and lows of a European sex worker who can only hide so much from a paying admirer behind a webcam for so long.
Dennis Milam Benise taps into so many different characters and themes in Robinson, IL and Other Flash Fiction Stories. Racism, sexual exploits and identity, politics, and both base and powerful human natures are on display. The writing is straightforward and simple in a few pieces, particularly the first small handful, but as Benise sharpens and flexes the pencil, it becomes clear that any initial plodding is swept away through wit and intelligent, thought-provoking prose. My favorite is A Thousand Signatures, wherein a confrontation between the wedding-dress-clad narrator and three patrons at the same bar highlights the discord among members who embrace Pride in contrasting ways. The run-in turns incredibly hostile but ultimately ends in the beauty that can grow from something ugly. Overall, this is an engrossing, well-constructed anthology and I loved having the opportunity to read it.