I received my copy of Matt Bell’s Wolf Parts yesterday. Read it last night. It made me want to say things about it.
I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve read a healthy dose of Bell’s work, but hadn’t read this piece. With a title like “Wolf Parts” so many things come to mind. If you’re like me you may have had TV On The Radio’s “Wolf Like Me” pop into your head. If you’re like me you may have thought of M. Night Shymalan’s The Village… for some reason.
I expected Wolf Parts to be good. But not as good as it actually is. It’s really good, and I don’t say that lightly.
I didn’t expect a dissection, a recreation of Little Red Riding Hood, which is what “Wolf Parts” is. In this aspect it reminded me of Robert Coover’s re-imagining of the fairytale in his novella, Stepmother. Only Bell’s story has a vibrancy, a violence, an empowerment that never got cemented in Coover’s novella. Sure, Coover’s had some moments. But “Wolf Parts” has it in spades from beginning to end.
I can’t fully articulate it, but something in the way the story is formatted reminded me of Molly Gaudry’s We Take Me Apart. I think it has to do with how the sections start. They are sort of introductions into each individual moment. It’s a technique I think is hard to pull off. But Gaudry did it well, just as Bell does here.
“Wolf Parts” is part of Bell’s forthcoming story collection, How They Were Found, due this October from Keyhole Press.
Ryan W. Bradley has pumped gas, changed oil, painted houses, swept the floor of a mechanic's shop, worked on a construction crew in the Arctic Circle, fronted a punk band, and managed an independent children's bookstore. He now works in marketing. His latest book is Nothing but the Dead and Dying, a collection of stories set in Alaska. He lives in southern Oregon with his wife and two sons.