Review: Halfway from Home
Sarah Fawn Montgomery's Halfway from Home is an intensely personal journey that flashes a reflective mirror upon American society exposing our collective imperfections and scars. Ever searching for clarity and reconciliation, Montgomery writes: “When I fly home to California from where I live in Massachusetts, crossing time zones and great distances like a space traveler, I spy Nebraska, another former home, another me in another time. No matter when I am or where I go, I am always halfway from home” (28). Halfway from Home takes the reader on a journey through memory and nostalgia. This nonlinear style starts in the opening sequences, beginning in San Miguel, California in 1991 where Montgomery, as her childhood self, digs with her favorite pail to find treasure in a magical backyard hole. Then four paragraphs later we are taken to Morro Bay, California, 1988 where she follows her father along the beach as he walks in the sand, struggling unsuccessfully to leave the same impression as his larger tracks. Almost immediately after, we are again transported to the year 1975, where her father shapes the land with his tools of labor. Just as fast, we are back to 1993, where Montgomery buried her dead frog, and her father could not understand why she was so emotional about it. The author provides the reader with several snapshots of memory from the years 1996, 2008, 2012, 2015, and so on.
Review: Green Regalia
Nature is boundless: it covers just about everything we know. And yet, as modern technology progresses, nature has somewhat morphed into a monstrosity in our everyday lives. Many people today fear the unknown depths of the natural world and shy away from exploring it too closely. What might we be missing out on by avoiding nature in all of its pure and chaotic glory?
Adam Tavel’s Green Regalia answers this question, among others. Tavel explores the more comforting aspects of nature through fresh metaphors and experimental phrasing. In all of nature’s chaos and climates, there exists an atmosphere of comfort that Tavel draws attention to. Tavel’s environmentally-themed collection begins with a poem titled “How to Write a Nature Poem.” This poem serves almost as an epigraph, foreshadowing the rest of the collection, which artfully guides the reader through understanding the environment’s present and prevalent hold on our lives. Through use of nature images, Tavel creates deeper themes surrounding family, identity and finding solace in uncontrollable external factors.
G.D. Brown’s Sinners Plunged Beneath that Flood is set in the dreary backdrop of a small Oklahoma town of Mayes County in the autumn of 1998—given life by the tantalizing group of characters who are thrust into solving this small town’s disappearances and other strange happenings.
In the opening lines of Sinners Plunged Beneath that Flood, Brown plants seeds into the reader’s mind by placing them in media res, teasing them with a glimpse into the characters, setting, and plot: “The fall of Jenn's senior year of high school, she learned that a person could be missing without having been gone for 48 hours, among other things. The leaves were brown and crunchy then, shriveled letters from the summer sun to warn of the coming cold” (1). In just the first few opening lines, Brown has the reader asking innumerable questions - those that can only be answered by delving deeper into the wayward world he builds throughout the novel.
Review: Sister Séance
A broken family of former slave owners. A pregnant woman awaiting her lover's arrival. A veteran that lost a hand in the civil war. A gathering with unexpected guests. In Sister Séance, a historical feminist horror novel by Aimee Parkison, a Halloween celebration brings together a range of characters in Concord, Massachusetts, and brings them face to face with their pasts.
Sister Séance is set shortly after the Civil War and centers around the history of two families: the Turners and the Haydens. A Dumb Supper, a meal where guests communicate without speaking, serves as the catalyst that gathers both families and most of the town along with two unplanned guests, the Usherwood Twins, a pair of mediums.
Review: I Only Cry with Emoticons
Yuvi Zalkow’s second and newest novel, I Only Cry With Emoticons, is a hilarious ride through dealing with human connection in a modern age littered with smartphones, tablets, dating apps, and hashtags. At its core, it’s a story about responsibility. It begs the question, how do we take responsibility for our irresponsible reliance on technology? How do we take responsibility for allowing ourselves to become so disconnected not just with one another, but our own lives?
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