Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Attack of the Jazz Giants and Other Stories
Gregory Frost
Golden Gryphon, 344 pages

Attack of the Jazz Giants and Other Stories
Gregory Frost
Gregory Frost is a graduate of the writing program at the University of Iowa and of the intensive Clarion Writers Workshop at Michigan State University. He attened the Sycamore Hill Writers Workshop at NC State University and, in the '90s along with Judith Berman and Richard Butner, took it over and moved it to Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. It has since returned to the mountains of North Carolina.

Gregory Frost Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by David Hebblethwaite

I'd not heard of Gregory Frost before reading this collection, but the epigraph from Andrei Sinayavsky gave me an idea of what to expect: "Realism is a literary technique no longer adequate for the purpose of representing reality." Quite so. This idea is most effectively embodied here in "Collecting Dust," the story of a family being literally ground down by modern life. It's powerful stuff, nicely understated with a sharp eye for detail.

Less successful is the tale immediately following it in the book. In "The Bus," a bum named Driskel boards the mysterious vehicle to find its passengers engaged in a giant non-stop party -- but there's a price to pay for joining the festivities... To be fair, the story isn't that bad in and of itself; it's just that "Collecting Dust" covers similar ground with more subtlety. "The Bus" can't help but pale in comparison.

The rest of Attack of the Jazz Giants consists of some very good pieces and other, more average, tales. One of the best is "The Girlfriends of Dorian Gray." This Dorian eats while his girlfriends put on the weight -- until he meets Cerise, that is... I love Frost's vivid writing in this story; he makes great use of the senses, especially (as you'd expect) taste. The ending is somewhat predictable, yet it's also inevitable, and entirely satisfying when it comes along.

"How Meersh the Bedeviler Lost His Toes" is another winner, though I struggle to describe it. The setting is Shadowbridge, a world constructed from a hodge-podge of errant myths and legends that refuse to settle down and behave. Meersh agrees to look after the children of his beautiful neighbour Sun-Through-Clouds (egged on by the rather vocal urges of one of his body parts), only to turn them accidentally into fish by overfeeding them. The story continues merrily in this vein for all its 27 pages, but that is as much as I'll reveal. Suffice it to say that I'm eager to read more about Shadowbridge.

"Some Things Are Better Left" begins at a thirtieth anniversary high school reunion, where Barry Kinder appears to have somehow escaped the toll of ageing. Mike Deak, a former pupil now working as a freelance journalist, investigates -- but isn't prepared for what he discovers. The reunion sequence rings true enough, but the rest feels dominated by dialogue and doesn't do justice to the idea.

"Lizaveta" is set in wartime Russia, where a soldier named Sergei Zarubkin encounters the titular prostitute, who tells him her story. She used to be a teacher in the village of Devashgorod, but she was troubled by one of the children, Akaky, who was more than he seemed... This tale is wonderfully atmospheric and creepy, one of the volume's highlights.

Attack of the Jazz Giants is a wide-ranging collection of stories, not always successful, but often intriguing. Though some of the entries misfire, there are also some magnificent tales here. Gregory Frost has produced a volume which is well worth investigating; as the saying goes, there is something for everyone here.

Copyright © 2005 David Hebblethwaite

David lives out in the wilds of Yorkshire, where he attempts to make a dent in his collection of unread books. You can read more of David's reviews at his review blog.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide