Viva Laughter!

Just what the doctor ordered!

Review by Grady Harp

Shakespeare may have coined ‘If music be the food of love, play on’ in Twelfth Night, but Woody Allen offered `I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose’ – one quote eloquent and rhapsodic, the other, well the other one applies to this exceptionally funny book by Patrick Shannon. Humor is a strange subject. We are barraged by stand up comedians who go for the fast giggle or guffaw; we are entertained by slowly unwinding novels that keep humor as the thread of connection. But then along comes Patrick Shannon with a book full of stories, short and long, that go where humor is supposed to take us – laughing at our own embarrassing foibles as they relate to other peoples stories and the result is laughter from the gut. Continue reading

MacTiernan’s Bottle

Ordinary people in rather extraordinary stories

Review by Grady Harp

The combination of psychiatrist and medical director for a community mental health center may seem like strange credentials for a man who is so very gifted in the art of writing short stories, but then think of some of the other physicians who have found voice in words, beginning with William Carlos Williams and on down the line. Many of the stories Michael Hopping shares in this delicious volume hint at the fact that he has worked in mental health: he reveals aspects of characters and the view of others surrounding the character of a story much the way a practitioner of tending the bruised mind would view the three dimensional aspects of someone sitting on the page in front of our eyes. Continue reading

The Aversive Clause

Somethings strange this way come…

Review by Grady Harp

B.C. Edwards may just be one of the more bizarre and immensely gifted writers to come down the pike in a long time. Leave it to Black Lawrence Press to discover these disparate geniuses – wherever do they find them? THE AVERSIVE CLAUSE is a collection of short stories, each one so well crafted that it seems like a compressed novel. Edwards can take and idea (fairly bizarre idea at that) and in a very short time make it blossom into something that feels as though it should be contained in a cage of sorts lest its effect seep out into the permanent pixels of our psyches. Continue reading

Fire and Forget

‘The pity of war…’

Review by Grady Harp

There can never be enough novels or short stories based on men’s and women’s experiences with war. Combat veterans, no matter the era or war about which they write, have wisdom at times fractured by the incoming destructive elements of warfare, but wisdom that must be shared if there will ever be a time when war isn’t an option. Not that there is any sort of hope that that state of human understanding will ever supersede the need for territorial/tribal/nationalism/mistrust/religious differences that drives us to the battlefield. But if there is any voice that demands to be heard it is that of those who faced what we created as the `enemy’ and to quote Pogo, `the enemy is us.’ Continue reading

The Woman of Porto Pim

Dreams, Whales, Islands and Ships

Review by Malcolm R. Campbell

“I did step off and put my feet on the ground, so that as well as being the product of my readiness to tell untruths, this little book partly has its origins in the time I spent in the Azores. Basically, its subject matter is the whale, an animal which more than any other would seem to be a metaphor; and shipwrecks, which insofar as they are understood as failures and inconclusive adventures, would likewise appear to be metaphorical.” – from the Introduction Continue reading