New Yorker fiction -- May 30, 2005 issue
Bezmozgis writes like a seasoned master, not a rookie upstart. In this story, there is no flash, no dazzle, no showing off or trying to impress. There is only the fluidity of deftly drawn realistic characters, a compelling story, subtle humor, and a sense of effortlessness in its execution. If it were up in workshop, I believe there would be nothing to say. We would adjourn to the Fox Head and toast the writer with pitchers of PBR. Hence, the blue traffic signal, which, ever since I first heard "The Wind Cries Mary" ("The traffic lights, they turn blue tomorrow"), has been for me an image of the rare and the unlikely. I guess for these reviews it will indicate the appearance of what, to me, is by all appearances Real Literature.
Because I can see nothing whatsoever to criticize in the story, I will not waste time trying to scrounge up something to make me feel smart. Saves me a lot of time this week. Does make me wonder who did this. Googling reveals that Bezmozgis has a book of stories out called Natasha and Other Stories, which certainly would appear to be worth picking up. He is a 31-year-old Jewish Latvian immigrant to Toronto and, somewhat obnoxiously, not the product not of an MFA program but of USC Film School, where he avoided taking any creative writing classes. What we have here is sheer natural talent, but far from raw, and surely Going Places. Velvet smooth, understated, chin-up honest, unflinching, unadorned, back-to-basics, the real deal, a Zen gusher spouting from that wellspring I myself lose track of ten times a day: the Beginner's Mind.