What would you do without a face? How would you express yourself in those most subtle moments when a wrinkle of skin, a crease in the eye, says more than words? In Joe Ponepinto’s title story “The Face Maker,” we are confronted with exactly these questions as Alistair Leeds handcrafts new faces for those disfigured by war. Leeds develops a passion for igniting new life for one particular soldier, challenged by the severity of the man’s wounds and the need to tirelessly work to return the man’s dignity.
What follows the opening story is a collection of tightly drawn characters that lure in the reader to worlds known and unknown, fears ignored and others faced head on. Ponepinto isn’t after shock value, yet his stories immediately jump into action and take the reader for an unexpected and riveting ride. Such is the case with “Living in Dark Houses,” where a young boy kills his father, but the story unfolds with grace and insight that reveals darkness where none should exist.
Battling morality and human faults, balancing good and evil, Joe Ponepinto’s collection of short stories offer depth and perception in well-crafted prose.
Joe Ponepinto is the former Book Review Editor for The Los Angeles Review. He was the winner of the 2011 Springfed Arts Writers Contest in prose, and was a finalist in Black Lawrence Press’s 2011 St. Lawrence Book Award contest for his short story collection. The Face Maker and other stories of obsession was published by Woodward Press in July 2013. The Face Maker is available in paperback and Kindle editions.