DiscoverLiterary Fiction

Golden Gate Jumper Survivors Society


Loved it! 😍

Eleven left-of-center short stories from San Francisco to Sioux Falls.

The implicit irony of any short story collection is that each story is singularly complete, but also contributes toward creating an aggregate creative statement. The strength of a great collection is that it enables readers to explore a theme or artistic vision from a variety of perspectives. The weakness is that one outlier can drag down the whole collection. By that standard, while Ross Wilcox’s “Golden Gate Suicide Jumpers’ Society” contains some great stories, the collection is less than the sum of its parts.

Wilcox, who teaches English at University of North Texas, writes gleefully about oddball characters in peculiar situations. No story better illustrates his off-kilter literary sensibilities than the title work, which describes strife and deception among members of a club nobody wanted to join. Other eccentric gems include “Puddin’ Suitcase,” about digging up a beloved pet’s grave, and “Oliver Weston GBV,” who imagines that his life is a reality TV show.

A prevailing theme throughout these stories depicts people pretending to be somebody they aren’t or struggling to figure out how to be themselves. Sally in “Broken Vessel” dresses up like Paul Bunyan and robs banks. The first-person narrator in “Symptoms” is a ne’er do well who, under the influence of pot brownies, confronts his failures by imagining a heart attack. This mixed-up identity motif is perhaps most explicit in “Costuming,” where Jordan, the main character, never goes out without a mask, and “Underneath, he was all of us. We are the costumes that he wore.”

The strongest stories are those with the most fully realized characters. This is true regardless of how offbeat the plot. However, in some stories, Wilcox doesn’t even try to convince the reader that his characters are to be believed. The suburbanites in “Year of Our Lawn” have no identity or purpose other than decorating their lawns in increasingly exorbitant ways. The parents in “Of Small Account” create a 3D printed world for their 3D printed son. These are basically one-trick stories that fall flat, not because they are so weird, but because the characters are cardboard.

All these stories were previously published in literary journals, which may be a more appropriate vehicle for some. In general, Wilcox has a playful take on some serious human foibles. On the whole, though, the collection would be stronger by omitting those stories where the characters are mere props acting in a contrived scenario. 

Reviewed by

Gregg Sapp is author of the “Holidazed” satires. To date, six titles have been released: “Halloween from the Other Side,” “The Christmas Donut Revolution,” “Upside Down Independence Day,” “Murder by Valentine Candy," "Thanksgiving Thanksgotten Thanksgone," and the latest, "New Year's Eve, 1999."

Golden Gate Jumper Survivors Society

About the author

I teach English at the University of North Texas. I live in Fort Worth with my wife and two cats. Currently, I'm at work on a novel. view profile

Published on August 31, 2020

Published by 7.13 Books

50000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Literary Fiction

Reviewed by