& ALSO RECEIVED/NOT REVIEWED
More short cuts may become available,
but don't hold your breath. We're on a long working vacation.
by Peter Donahue
Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts, 508 PP.
Madison Ingram, already tested by the challenge of following her gold-seeking
husband to the far north only to return to Seattle alone, finds her hard-won
happiness threatened by the inexorable march of the city fathers' idea of
progress in the early 20th century. As the owner of Madison House, a
Denny Hill boarding house, Maddie treats the eclectic group of residents more as
an unconventional family than mere boarders. When the city begins an ambitious
re-grading plan, it's announced that all affected property owners are
responsible for the cost of re-grading their land to meet the level of the
streets set by the city, leaving the future of Madison House, and its residents,
uncertain at best.
break-up of the narrative, feeding readers bits of Maddie's backstory at the
conclusion of parts one and two only (there are four parts in the book) rather
than through straight flashbacks, felt awkward, but Donahue's affecting literary
narrative successfully incorporates social, political, and cultural history as
seen through the eyes of the dispossessed, disadvantaged, and disenfranchised in
a pivotal time in Seattle's history. -A.A.-
Love Song for the Bad Priestess
iUniverse, Inc, Lincoln, 197 pages
If Holden Caulfield hunkered down with a
high-powered hunting rifle outside his local high school picking off fellow
students dressed in Goth black while measuring his penis, you might get some
idea of this novel. The form is somewhat of a mess veering from straight
narrative to diary to screenplay to poetry, but it is a well-written
coming-of-age novel examining teenage angst. The narrative is set on the cusp of
Y2K (how old-fashioned that sounds now). It deals with murder, love, Satanism,
and stars a stigmatic porn actress. Like the use of mysterious movies in Don
DeLillo’s Running Dog and David
Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, it
plays with the idea of an occult book, which has strange effects on the
inhabitants of a small American town. It reminded me of a watered-down Brian
Evenson novel in its exploration of religion and violence. For a first novel, it
is brave and challenging. -S.F.-
dry, and severe
by Nate Briggs
canniballife $14.95 297 pp
An intelligent and intricate faux-memoir, Dry and Severe holds enough compelling characters and situations for two or three
books—and indeed, the reader might have been better served had the author focused on one or two fewer geographical story lines or offshoots. The shift between present, distant and recent pasts is handled well, but often diverts from what might have been a more enjoyable read. The talented Briggs fails slightly in early establishment of the female narrator, and does show a penchant for over-emphatic capitalization, which works occasionally but more often borders on irritating and
“wrong.” (Sinned; Jet Lag; Not Knocking? Come on).
Despite these slight sins of commission, this first-time novelist shows promise.
The Need for Character
by Richard K. Weems
This chapbook of short-short fiction focuses primarily on disaffected, diseased, and odd characters: the tossed dwarf after the tossing is done; the mall Easter Bunny drinking in his off hours; a grandson nauseated by his decaying grandfather; an emotionally conflicted hill giant; and loads of schizophrenics, mild and otherwise.
Weem’s work never fails to generate a strange dynamic interest
(ALR has published one of his stories), but some readers will be put off by his occasional ambiguity or lack of intelligibility; others will love him for these elements. Our general
observation is that Weems stands rock solid in the realm of idea and story, but perhaps needs a hair more navel-gazing in the realm of execution and editorial
oversight. Not your usual fiction, in any case.
Late, So Soon
by D’arcy Fallon
A highly readable memoir about the author’s experiences as a young adult in a
hippie-era Christian commune. Fallon’s honest tale of her internal and external
struggles within the repressed traditional construct of a garden-variety
Jesus-Freak Central should be required reading for any young person who has
recently “found” the Lord. The book is a heartfelt and well-executed
testament to a precept of which almost every person of modest reason, age,
and/or education is aware: a narrow definition of divinity is always too
confining and usually too ridiculous for the expansive mind to bear. (Why is it
that those minds that God/god wrought best invariably have the most difficulty
accepting the simplistic politicized confines of religious institutions? Could
it be that He/She/It gives greater gifts to those who have to deal with the
congregated legions of blindered dumbasses while the dumbasses themselves only
require a rudimentary nodding mechanism and a deep sense of insufficiency?) So
Late, So Soon addresses the problem of spiritual hunger within the human
sphere with style and a considerable eye to warts, navels, and better
Dragons: Lexicon Trimuvirate
by Kenneth Che-Tew Eng
A novel about dragons, mechanical and otherwise. (We do not review books in the
dragon/sword & sorcery/fantasy genre—even if they have a slight
by Shawn Christopher Shea, M.D.
We only review non-fiction with a heavy literary angle.
Ard Righ: The Sword on the Stone
by Ray Cattie
Looks fine, but there’s no way in hell we’re going to open up the sword and
sorcery sluice gates by reviewing Arthurian lore.
Dark Side of Time and
Phase One After Zero
by Vladimir Chernozemsky
ARCHIVE OF RECEIVED BUT