Working as a curator in your spare time is a lot similar to digging for gold in your back yard: it’s fun working the metal detector, but the precious ore is rare. Still, every now and then you come across fiction that promises. Burgeoning short stories saying you will meet their author again. One such short story is “poor boy” written by a promising new voice: Elahzar Rao.
According to the online bio, ELAHZAR RAO has a B.A. in English from Hunter College, and is currently pursuing an M.S. in education at Long Island University. His publication credits include artwork in Cerise Press, Prick of the Spindle, The Centrifugal Eye, Fogged Clarity, and Convergence, as well as short stories forthcoming in Hawai’i Review, Fiction Fix, Pilot, and The Literary Review.
I came across the author while curating for Fiction Magazines, and made a mental note to “look it up” later. The piece I initially saw was different than the works I found published, but all stories were glued with an intriguing style. He is a versatile artist interested in more than just writing: I suspect he isn’t at the end of his creative transformation as he still ably toys with multiple means of expression and his photography is rivalling with his writing.
One of his published works appears in the Cortland Review (issue 57). It is called “poor boy” and tells the story of an ordinary family that gets so caught up in fighting the windmills of modern existence that it loses sight of their sons.
Their involuntary omission comes at an unforeseen cost, and their effort to climb the ladder to a better life are deemed shallow and scattered in the four winds in the aftermath of the disaster.
While still holding the overweight of the sensational narrative, the short story is redeemed by a very personal use of language. The author has a strong voice and gives special attention to style.
He makes good use of symmetry, apparent in phrasing such as “whatever he had worn now seemed shed”. The piece has an adequate sense of rhythm and laboriously builds momentum through reminiscence. It is well-balanced and stays true to the POV. Still rough around the edges, but undoubtedly good. I have a feeling we will hear of M. Rao again, but you don’t have to take my word for it.
In fact, I encourage you not to. Go and see for yourselves. Find out what saves the ‘poor boy’ on ‘”the Cortland Review” website.