“Take It Off”

Take It Off, by Andrew Penn Romine, comes from the anthology Rigor Amortis, published in 2010. The story goes something like this (Andrew will hopefully correct me if I get it wrong): several writers/friends were chatting on Twitter when someone made a joke about a book of zombie love stories. Cue one rolling snowball–or perhaps a grain of sand becoming a pearl is a better metaphor–and suddenly there was an actual anthology taking submissions. It started the ball rolling (it appears I can’t stay away from that snowball) on several writing careers, including Andrew’s, for whom this was his first sale.

Since then Andrew has been published in nearly a dozen other markets, including Crossed GenresLightspeed Magazine, Paizo Publishing’s Pathfinder Tales for their Pathfinder RPG product, and a host of anthologies. You can view his complete bibliography here. He is a graduate of the Clarion West program, a member of the InkPunks Writing Group, and a personal friend.

Things to think about while reading this story:

  1. Andrew walks a tightrope between sexy and horrifying with his descriptions of the strip club and Gina in particular. How effective is his imagery? Do you feel that the two impressions conflict, and if so, does one win out?
  2. Take it Off is only three pages, about a thousand words; it falls squarely in the flash fiction (or dare I say it, vignette) category. To tell this story in that space, Andrew has to not only build characters and situation, but also the world. Do you think he’s done a good job of this? What specific phrases can you see that evoke the world, the characters, the situation?
  3. When I first read this story, the ending was dissatisfying; my knee-jerk reaction was to want a happier/more complete resolution. I’ve read it several times since then (several times in the last couple of days, actually) and I find that opinion has changed. What do you think about the way this story concludes? Are you satisfied, or do you want more? How would you have done it differently?

Enjoy the story, and feel free to comment on your impressions below.

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