ELEVEN GALLOWS ON YOUR SLEEVE
"Try to win and suit your needs, speak out sometimes but try to win" (REM, Perfect Circle)
"Sometimes a good exit is all you can ask for" (William "Dead"Kennedy, Firecracker)
Sean Stewart's Firecracker has a weariness in its bones from all the past that bears down on it - - -an overlap of memories, of ghosts actual and metaphoric. It's a weariness brokedown with a cathartic sadness, though, shot through with languid quietude and, in spasms , tenderized with something that's so close to grace that it hardly matters if it isn't. William (a.ka. "Dead") Kennedy is a man in both deep hurt and deep surrender, not so much lived-in as lived out - - - "these bullets of loneliness used to get me all the time . . .you just learn to let the feeling roll by you . . .wait until you can breathe again." He also sees dead things , talks with them, incurs their wrath. But the vortex of his cul-de-sac life is the one dead thing he hopes to, but cannot, resurrect - - - his failed marriage to a woman he still loves : "You love someone,they're in you like a fishhook. Can't just pull them out. "
The supernatural here is ambient,imminent,dangerous - - - Stewart's grasp of scary is cunning. But the beautiful noise picks up more in the tender exchanges between fathers and daughters, ex-husbands and ex-wives, mothers and sons, and in their hopeful but dangerously fragile resolutions to conflict. Not merely about the strangeness that converges around a lost man worn down by his pathos but more about the pathos wearing him down , genre stalwart Stewart is pulsing an emotive throb that might seem beyond the ken of the ghetto- - - a ghost story about the virtues of family, true love's slippery grasp and the futility of second chances at making first impressions. Haunted, haunting, heartbreaking.