Kris Dinnison’s “Momentum” in One Teen Story is a model of concise writing that is as tight as a cube of garbage pulled from a trash compactor.
That’s probably a poor analogy since Dinnison’s story is hardly garbage. No, it’s full of beauty and truth and humor and danger and thrills and romance—all in the small space of fifteen pages of large print. It’s a coming-of-age story and a coming-out story which all unfolds during one night’s drunk, careening drive in a Pacer. Narrated by Leo on the eve of his departure for college as he’s driven through the moonlit countryside by cool tough guy Sid, “Momentum” quickly peels back the layers between the two young men as they play a revealing game of Truth or Dare. I say “quickly,” but it’s done so subtly that I hardly noticed the emotional evolution taking place in the front seat of that Pacer. Kudos to Dinnison for understanding the precision of words and the way they can shift the balance of a story to the left or to the right in the space of just one syllable. There is so much at stake in “Momentum” that the wrong word—too heavily-weighted—could have sent the whole thing tumbling into a messy pile. Instead, we get succinct passages like this:
I hated momentum. But I loved Sid. And I was leaving. And he was staying. And I didn’t know what that meant yet.It took me less than twenty minutes to read “Momentum,” but that was long enough for me to lose my breath on a ride that sent me hurtling through the pages. It was only when I reached the end, gasping, that I was able to look back and see all that had flashed past the windows.
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