Issue #195: Cool City
by Chuck Augello

195.coverHurricane Sandy happened almost two years ago, but its effects are still felt across New York City. I’ll never forget the way giant trees were thrown about like tinker toys, and the dread my neighbors and I felt as the Gowanus Canal broke its banks and started flooding sewage into the streets. As sections of the city were destroyed, and others left without power for days and even weeks, from Staten Island to Red Hook we were all shaken. Sandy was a reminder of how mother nature can bring civilization to its knees. That kind of chaos and randomness can be a frightening thing, so when Chuck Augello’s “Cool City,” appeared in our slush pile, I found myself both surprised and charmed by the way Augello took those same feelings of fear and uncertainty and spun them into a story about connection and love. Set during a terrible, Sandy-like storm, “Cool City” follows two young city-dwellers, each trying to cope with the randomness and terror of life. One uses numbers and OCD-like behaviors to make himself feel safe, the other uses “Fast Love”—a unique self-help program where love is broken down to an impulse decision followed by immediate, binding commitment. Be sure to read Chuck Augello’s Q&A with us about how he came up with the concept for “Fast Love”, as well as his decision to use Rainer Maria Rilke’s poems in “Cool City.”  I was moved and relieved when reading the final pages of this story, just as I was by the outpouring of volunteers and neighbors coming together in the aftermath of Sandy’s destruction. Like these two characters who fall in love during the chaos and wildness of the storm, when the rain finally stopped we found true comfort in each other.

2 thoughts on “Issue #195: Cool City
by Chuck Augello

  1. What a good story, so much fun to read. Nothing labors. Such a pleasure to find a story like this one, where every line is as good as the one before, and humor illuminates the page.

  2. I was immediately pulled into this story from the first page. We have this larger than life female character, ridiculous things are happening and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. I was particularly struck by those short sentences that totally turn the story in another direction but totally totally work (“It’s going to be bad, I thought” and then later “That night, the storm hit…”)

    But the Annabelle character struck me as a Japanese blow-up doll. That is, at a certain point her enthusiasm became wooden. Her most vulnerable moment was when she holds her breath. Lots of great imaginative details but being a woman, I have to push back just a little. John Green’s YA heroines have more depth and personality.

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