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Reckless: Rush Hour #4    by Michael Cart order for
by Michael Cart
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Editor Michael Cart quotes Robert Frost's The Sound of Trees - 'I shall make the reckless choice', for the title of this fourth volume in the Rush Hour series. In his Introduction he writes, 'it's not important what either the dictionary or I have to say about the meaning of recklessness. What's important is how the seventeen authors and artists who have contributed to this issue have chosen to define the word with their work'. Through artwork, an interview, short stories, and poems, a variety of voices speaks to us in Reckless.

In Vocabulary, Gregory Galloway writes of Jim spending a weekend with dad. It's Valentine's Day, and Dad asks if Mom has plans. Jim answers truthfully - but thinks perhaps he should not have - that 'she's at the lake with her boyfriend' (the lake is a place Dad used to go with Mom. Dad says 'I'm going to have some fun ... come along for the ride'. He pulls out a bottle of liquor while driving, and tells Jim to have a drink, 'show me something'. They arrive at the lake, the cabin is dark, and Dad has brought a suitcase full of prank items. Jim is reluctant when dad says again 'show me something'.

David Levithan's Breaking and Entering is moving. Cody's parents are away and his car is parked seven blocks away so neighbors will not see it. 'I wasn't supposed to be there, wasn't supposed to be the boy Cody loved'. Cody's at college now for some months, but 'I still go to his house'. He falls asleep on the bed, to be awakened by Cody's mom, who says, 'You miss him ... stay as long as you want. But don't do this again. This is the last time', advising him to move on with his life.

In a different mood we have Benjamin M. Foster's Concept - a home for those with a last hope for change. The mixture of reasons they are there is diverse - drunks, junkies, suicide attempts - but 'The real reason we were sent here was because somebody somewhere decided we weren't fit to live in society.' Each resident has duties, and there are punishments determined by the residents for those who go out of line - misbehave, or break the rules.

A. M. Jenkins' The Last Second is Blaine's story of his mother who has not spoken for days. She wanders the house, sorting through and reading sympathy cards and letters. Blaine feels 'warm and sleepy ... the sun coming through the window behind him ... everything around is in a dim haze'. Blaine remembers mom's call to be in before dark. He remembers the braking of a car, the ambulance siren, the ER on a slick road, and another figure being hit.

Alex is Alone for the Weekend in Martin Wilson's short story of parents away for a break. At a recent party, Alex drank a bottle of Pine Sol, and was rushed to hospital. Since then, friends don't come around or call, nor do classmates pay attention to him at school. Alone in the house, he relishes the freedom of doing what he wants, not bothering to take out trash, eating on his parents' wedding china, and wearing dad's silk robe. Alex watches the boy across the street lying in the driveway, reading. He's alone, as his mother didn't come home the night before.

I especially appreciated An Interview With Yann Martel, Canadian author of Life of Pi, which won the 2002 Man Booker Prize. In response to the question whether the word reckless can be applied to his characters or himself, Martel says, 'Animals are never reckless; they're too aware of the dangers lurking ... it might apply to me ... to all writers and artists ... You spend years on a project ... invest yourself completely ... in heart and soul, and nine times out of ten the impact on your times are next to nil ... So that's reckless: sitting down and writing a novel.'

Each story has its own way of expressing the meaning of reckless, and readers will respond differently to each selection. Michael Cart's anthology parades shoplifting; suicide attempts; a teen pregnancy; a youth flying his father's sea plane with a passenger aboard as fuel tanks run low; pining for a lost love; and pranks and decisions that catapult one forward or backward. Previous Rush Hour editions are entitled Sin, Bad Boys, and Face.

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