“This Same Small Town In Each Of Us”, by Wanda Morrow Clevenger

“She writes like a reader.”

I recently received “This Same Small Town In Each Of Us” (Embracing The Human Condition) by Wanda Morrow Clevenger published by Edgar and Lenore’s Publishing House in California. A collection of prose, memoir, and poetry, it was a needed change from many of the essays that I have been reading lately. Her characters felt familiar to me, recollections from different ages and situations brought me to places that I recognized. I connected the prose and poems to many of my own memories and reading this book brought me back to experiences that I have not thought about in years. Small things, like riding on the handlebars of a bike and skinned knees, holidays and little memories triggering larger ones. Clevenger moves from child to mother, past and present, the world of her youth and the world of today, different in obvious ways but also in the sum of many small things that we lived without back then but are an integral part of life now.

IMG_3676Clevenger has this ability to be funny and serious, descriptive without going too far, with her transitions well timed. She knows when to pull the reigns, how much information we need and she doesn’t dump words to fill pages. She writes like a reader. Continue reading

Watch The Doors As They Close, Karen Lillis

‘Watch The Doors As They Close”, a novella from Spuyten Duyvil, by Karen Lillis. Discussed by Elynn Alexander for Crow Reviews. 2012. 

If you don’t know about Karen Lillis, then let me take a few lines to introduce you because she is somebody that you will want to keep an eye on, and you can do so here at her blog: Karen The Small Press Librarian. 

Karen is a writer, of course, but also an advocate and community builder among those who find themselves drawn to the small press. It would take pages to do her efforts justice, and I hope that it is sufficient to say here that Karen represents the kind of inclusive advocacy and defense that we need and her efforts to organize, facilitate, and indeed- make the case for small press- have not gone unnoticed by many of us. We are honored to have her latest novella in our hands here at Full Of Crow and wish only the best for the talented and respected Karen Lillis as she continues on her tour of readings and appearances. This represents another achievement in her writing career, and she has reason to be proud of it. Many of our readers recall that she was nominated for the Pushcart by our editors for her fiction pieces in one of our quarterly publications, Blink Ink.

Watch the Doors as They Close is a new novella from Spuyten Duyvil Press, distributed by Small Press Distribution.

The narrator writes about Anselm, struggling to process not only the experience of being with him in the context of her own expectations and version of love, but in so doing- tells the story of a relationship and that interface where two people with disparate histories attempt to connect. We know that they do connect, but their lives don’t seem to integrate. They spend their time together parallel, unable to push any closer to intimacy, and in the end they part ways rather easily. Or so it seems. The narrator has taken to analysis, assembling facts and observations to more fully understand the relationship, sketching Anselm as subject.

She seems more capable, though appearing nameless and fleeting, even in her own story, recollections less their combined experience and more his past brought full circle to the present where she tries to make sense of the man she meets from her sketch of the man he was. She is like an ethnographer, gathering information to create a context for what she has observed in their time together. It doesn’t come across as sentimental or the fixation of a woman unable to let go, but rather, as the insight of an observer who, through love, has taken the time to transcribe her observations. In a sense, she honors him, and it is a story of “him” far more than “them” in the end.  Continue reading

“All Her Father’s Guns”, James Warner

“All Her Father’s Guns”, by James Warner. Reviewed for Full of Crow by Paul Corman-Roberts.

HIJINX FOR A SAD AND DECLINING EMPIRE

2011, Numina Press, 190 pp.

Ostensibly a madcap political caper with two narrators, James Warner’s debut novel “All Her Father’s Guns” is in fact the story of two men who are desperately seeking to redefine the meaning of their lives in a world that is becoming more and more dominated by the females in their lives. Continue reading

Apostle Rising, by Richard Godwin

Apostle Rising, by Richard Godwin, published by Black Jackal Books. Reviewed for Full Of Crow by Elynn Alexander.

In his first novel Apostle Rising, Richard Godwin emerges as a writer willing to take risks because of his confidence in the reader. He understands that on one level we want to be passively entertained, and that is what sells in a market dominated by vampire clone stories and the prattle of politicians-gone -celebrity. The rubric for success seems to include attention-getting crossover and repetition, feeding the appetite  of the consumer for familiarity and predictability. In putting out a genre work- Godwin is responsive to this. Called both “police procedural” and a “psychological thriller”, there is certainly a niche market in mind. But one characteristic of a good novel is the ability to resonate with others, particularly those who don’t tend to frequent those sections in the book store, a sort of “universality” about the book’s appeal. Continue reading

Twenty Stories, Kristin Fouquet

Richard Godwin reviews “Twenty Stories” by Kristin Fouquet.

What immediately struck me as soon as I started reading these excellent stories, is that Kristin Fouquet inhabits the European tradition of literature.

She uses detailed and concise description which she has mastered to an unusual degree to conjure characters quickly from the page and render a narrative with immediate impact.
There is heartache here and humour, there is tragedy and insight.

From the brilliant opening story ‘The Dead Redhead’, which has the courage to remain equivocal, through the excellent ‘The Kitchen’, the reader gets an immediate sense of the author’s playful eroticism and control of words. Continue reading

“Watching The Windows Sleep”, Tantra Bensko

Lynn Alexander for Full Of Crow on “Watching The Windows Sleep”, a chapbook produced by Naissance, written by Tantra Bensko.  A review by Spencer Dew appeared in decomp in January as well and you can check that out here. Find out more on Tantra Bensko at her website and at Naissance Press: Official Tantra Bensko Web Site and the Official Naissance Chapbooks Web Site.

“Whimsical ridiculous meets explorations of consciousness.” Bensko is known for her experimental poetry and fiction, work that is strange and surrealist. It seems fitting that she begins this chapbook with the poem “Non Containers”, as this is not a collection that can be easily defined, a mix of poetry and fiction that tantalizes the imagination: Continue reading

Sui Generis, by Marc Lowe

Marc Lowe’s collection of fiction, “Sui Generis” from ISMs Press, reviewed for Full Of Crow by Lynn Alexander.

“Sui Generis” And Other Fictions is a digital collection (e-book) available now from ISMs Press. It contains 23 stories that Lowe identifies as being written while he was living in Japan from 2004 to 2006. The stories have been published in various zines and publications around the web but are now assembled in one place, which really gives the reader a sense of what he has been doing as a writer and how much he departs from “conventional” fiction. I really liked the stories he chose, and I think Lowe is one to keep an eye on. Continue reading

"Charactered Pieces", by Caleb J. Ross

Charactered Pieces” by Caleb J. Ross, reviewed by Lynn Alexander. Charactered Pieces” is the second publication of the new Outsider Writers Press. It follows David Blaine’s poetry chapbook “Antisocial” as their second release.

Ross delivers exactly what you have come to expect from him: smart layers of fiction with thematically related elements. We see attention to strange details…and we see sick things that on occasion seem nudged into the foreground from where they stood, poised in the periphery. Perhaps Ross does this to add depth to the characters, rendering them alongside their context.

Charactered Pieces” refer to flawed diamonds, a marketing ploy developed by the character of Lori who is herself a “charactered piece” and as such, seems unable to win the approval of her mother.

Ross moves on to “My Family’s Rule”, where concealment is part of the game of pushing people to decipher what we want and judging them accordingly. Trying to please the father, the offspring involved want to purchase proper presents, as opposed to presents that signify something negative in his eyes as in the case of the shotglasses: “white trash” presents. Continue reading