Author: Adam Padgett
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Review
Issue: Fall, 2015
Reviewed by: Vickie Fang
About once a month we review fiction that a literary magazine has made available on-line; this month we’re taking a look at Outpost, one of the short stories Bellevue has nominated for the Pushcart Award. Padgett’s story takes place in Korea during the war and is told in first person by a twenty year old soldier who volunteered “not for the promises of “seeing the world,” but . . . for country, for America, because General MacArthur and President Truman needed their countrymen to fight for her like she was some mistress these men couldn’t quit.” This voice, sincere, hard scrabble, and also highly self aware, continues in pitch perfect form as the young man explores the world around him and as he feels his understanding of his own world change irrevocably and almost all at once.
Padgett said the following when he was interviewed about his work by Smokelong Quarterly:
In Southern fiction, the conflicts are dirtier. They are not generally stories of middle-class moroseness or writers writing stories about writers. They are stories of consequence. Stories that uncover some universal truth about human nature through violence and the grotesque. Stories about morality verses traditional values (as in O’Connor’s “Christ-haunted south”). They should, as McCarthy says, deal in some way with issues of life and death. I’ve learned to ask myself, how might a particular conflict crush or liberate a character’s life? Are the consequences heavy enough? Revealing enough?
Whether he crushes or liberates his characters, Padgett is a writer who takes his characters seriously, allowing them to have dignity even when they are cowardly or ignorant. The result is, as he said, a story of consequence. Outpost is a quick read that will be long remembered. Click here or on the link above to take a look at it.