Emily Webber reviews Wake in the Night for jmww.
"Wake in the Night is flooded with life, and one gets the sense that Krughoff is a careful study of character and what forms a person’s identity. That curiosity and care with which Krughoff approaches her characters are deeply felt in her writing, making this an unforgettable collection." ~ Emily Webber, jmww
See the full review here.
Campion opens her review stating, “The four stories in J. David Stevens's short story collection I and You explore the experience of Chinese immigrants in the United States. Yet, unlike other stories about the immigrant experience, these are penned by a Caucasian American, whose access to the immigration narrative comes through his Chinese-born wife, Janet. They touch on themes familiar to immigration narratives: loss, the desire to belong, the search for identity, and most of all, the rifts that immigration causes between immigrants and their country, between immigrant parents and their American-born children, or between Caucasian Americans and newcomers to their country. But they all connect to the broader theme of otherness.”
She continues on to say, “As an immigrant myself, I approach such narratives with curiosity, expecting to find an echo of my own experiences, but also with skepticism. Stevens isn't himself an immigrant, so how could he tell such stories? In an age keenly aware of the pitfalls of representation, his writing demonstrates the validity of the enterprise.”
Read the full review HERE.
"Heat is Heat"
Mouth Trap by Rebbecca Brown
The truck turned past fields and paddies while heat held him in its grip gasping with nothing but a gun and desire to drown the water that presses, swamps him.
What do you think the woods would want without the sun to slash them green? he said while the truck bumped over a road choking hope.
He said I would like to break this heat, bottle it up, sell it to the frostbitten, save it. No way else to explain but cold is cold and heat is heat.
The migration of birds across rivers and valleys from icy nights swamped with water wavering vision moved toward someone who thinks he can capture heat bottled and stuffed.
The dead are practical. He takes his gun slings it over a shoulder and shoots blustered feathers into falling. He says There should not be sadness. The dead are practical all piled up.
Think about it he says. In the dirty water the thrashing fish tease worms. What would we do without the heat of the dead to sustain us?
Excerpt from the title story, “The Paper Life They Lead”
The Paper Life They Lead: Stories by Patrick Crerand
Morning on the Pepperidge Farm box is not all chocolate and cheese. The three of them—the farmer, his wife, and the boy—dot the whiteness like breadcrumbs on an apron. It is always cold and it is always morning. When the farmer walks, his feet leave no tracks in the white powder. He is on his way to cut and winnow the tufts of winter wheat that strafe the land below the hill. His hands are small and weak. The wind blows in cold streams and stops him. He scans the horizon and stomps his feet warm. The ache in his knee keeps his leg crooked at a painful angle. It throbs and with each step the ache seeps up his leg and into his groin, then to his heart. He daydreams in the pink reflections the white field leaves on the undersides of his eyes. He can see the day ahead of him: The boy and he will scythe the wheat flat, remove the stalks and then throw the heads in the air, letting the wind take the husks, catching the heads in a basket. They will eat a few to check for blight. The jagged berries will cut up the roof of his mouth if it is a healthy crop. The blood will salt the blandness of the wheat. He can already taste the blood. He limps off again.
"This book is full of terribly glorious clamor."
Read the full review at Entropy Magazine.
~ from the essay " Sacred Spirit Medicine: “Sacred Spirit Medicine”
Pleasing Tree by Brooke Larson
How did we get here?
God was my youthful drug of choice. I’ve heard descriptions of the euphoria and hard fall of heroin that uncannily resemble the experience of my girlhood prayers. Curiously, I never had that experience when I tried heroin. I never felt anything out of the ordinary when I took ecstasy. My non-experiences of these drugs baffled others and greatly frustrated me. Drugs would always seem modest in comparison to my mutterings in pajamas at my long ago bedside.
~ from the short story "Turkeys"
I AND YOU by J. David Stevens
On Thursday, Raymond’s father picked up the athletic permission forms from the high school. Then he took Raymond to buy cleats. He made a production of handling every shoe in The Sports Authority—bending them at the toe, knocking his fist against the molded rubber bottoms—before selecting a discounted pair one size too small with soccer balls on the heels. Raymond didn’t complain. Over the weekend, he knew, his mother would return the shoes and select a pair the proper size, depositing them in his closet without comment.
~ from the short story "I Am the Voice Calling in the Desert"
“What on earth are you playing?” my mother asked one afternoon when she stepped out into the yard to hang up the wash. I was barefoot, streaked with dirt, and I’d torn my shirt.
“John the Baptist,” I said.
I must have been quite an affront to my mother in that moment. It broke her heart that I could never manage to keep bobby socks from slipping down and getting sweaty and crumpled in my shoes, and here I was, looking for all the world like a mental patient.
“John the Baptist wasn’t a girl,” she said, reasonably. “If you set your dolls up on the patio you could play school.”
I shrieked and ran around behind the garage where I could kick up dust and preach my sermons in peace.
"In The Paper Life They Lead, Patrick Crerand takes risks in his storytelling, and the result is an inventive collection. In this slim book of just over 50 pages, Crerand’s mixture of flash fiction and slightly longer stories drops the reader into bizarre and unexpected places. Fantastical events occur even when the world looks much like the one we live in. The interesting and weird premises are stated upfront allowing the reader to focus on the characters—their relationships and how they react to the situations they are in."
--Emily Webber, SmokeLong Quarterly
Read the full review here.
Caroline Leavitt, author of New York Times Best Sellers Pictures of You and Is This Tomorrow, says Patrick Crerand's stories "knocked her striped socks off."
"These stories are so jaw-droppingly unexpected. They actually remind me of Dan Chaon's stories, the matter-of-fact way that you guide us into deeply strange territory."
Read the full interview here.