I’m reviewing each of the stories featured in July’s issue of eFicition magazine (which also happens to have a story by me).
This week, I take a look at Garbage Collector by George Garnet.
The second piece in the issue follows a night in the life of a garbage collector in a dangerous city. Told from the first-person, the story moves briskly as the collector witnesses a woman terrorized by thug, and decides to intervene.
This is an easy and quick read, its narrative quickly painting a gritty environment and a character who just wants to make it a little cleaner.
The story shows a restless protagonist, seeking solace in a repetitive, easy job of cleaning the world. I like that while the protagonist is conflicted, he is brooding or overly cynical, like one might expect from a garbage collector. He sees the good in his job, and has found ways to take pride in it.
When he helps the woman in trouble, it’s clear that this is just another kind of cleaning. He rises to the occasion not just to help out, but as part of his self-assigned mission. I have no trouble understanding and sympathizing with him.
The voice seems a bit sophisticated for a garbage collector. There are a few choices that mark him as more educated – which is fine, if it’s clear why he’s a garbage collector instead of something else. There’s a hint that he’s there because his wife left him, but it’s not enough. I would have liked either a hint of a previous job that ‘fits’ his language, or to see him narrate with more slang and less sophisticated word choices.
The prose moves quickly, painting the dark world of this lowly garbage collector. I appreciate stories with a lowly underdog, someone overlooked by society. My own protagonists tend to be in more ‘respectable’ positions – this story made me think that I should have more variety in my characters’ social and economic backgrounds.