June, 27 2014
Paul Bruce makes a swift, bold move in this short story, wasting no time in gathering speed and comic energy. In fact, the first lines made me chuckle, at Martha Kipp’s “finely-sculpted mahogany arm.” In another story, this description might have made me doubt the eye of the writer, but the lightness of The Panthers tone is so evident from the beginning, that I took to it and trusted it.
Comic moments continue to play out as the story follows the duo Matti and Martha and their unlikely brood of large cats as they travel to Rannoch Moor and attempt to ward off suspicion and set the beasts free. Funny secondary characters appear throughout, like Pud the hitchhiker, briefly providing obstacles and shaking things up, but the main thrust of the short tale is taken up with the grand and odd personalities of the protagonist pair, and the panthers slinking and grumbling in the background.
Panthers has a very amusing voice – this voice, hopping in and out of dialogue and short narrative description embodies the whimsical figures of Martha and Matti. Bruce draws them deftly. When they stop off at a butcher for example and are asked why they are ordering so much steak, Matti responds so: “Matti pursed his lips, “I am having steak party.”” It is these one-liners that make the story pop.
A short, laugh-inducing tale, not likely to thrill with dramatic tension but very nice for a few minutes of comedy.
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