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French Kisses

Twelve stories depicting Americans in France, a broad array of characters and situations- -a boozy basketball player colliding with bigotry; a vet at Omaha Beach confronting a memory; a boy sent abroad while his parents divorce; a jealous sister coveting one last heirloom; a killer seeking peace at Lake Geneva; a pharmacist shielding his suspect wife; an American woman who’s never lived in America; sons bullied by fathers; a relentless dreamer about to go illegal. All seek the enchantment, refuge or even forgiveness France might offer. But they can’t quite discard the baggage they carry. Read more…

The Narrow Gate: Art, Writing & Values

The Narrow Gate presents 19 short essays that explore ways in which literary writing and visual art affirm and clarify values, in our personal lives and in art, itself, with topics ranging from “resilience” to “madness” to “art + work.” These essays often take a personal perspective, written by the editor of New Letters, a leading journal of writing and art; they originally served as introductions to and expansions on writing and art featured in the magazine. Citing the work of contemporaries, such as Daniel Woodrell and Marilyn Kallet, and past writers, such as Cervantes and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author asserts that writing and art uplift and sustain us in our relationships and spiritual endeavors. Included is a selection of art and poetry referred to in the essays. Read more…

Ravenous: New and Selected Poems

Ravenous: New & Selected Poems by Rick Mulkey provides new and returning readers an opportunity to consider recent and previously published work in a collection containing wide stylistic variety with deep unifying themes and concerns. From an 18th Century Persian village to the porches and homestead’s of the Appalachian South, these poems counterpoint the sorrowful with the joyful, exploring how “even in the soul’s grim mines, one tuned string/perfectly plucked could make us believe all would be right. Read more…

Letters to My Younger Self: An Anthology of Writings by Incarcerated Men at S.C.I. Graterford and a Writing Workbook

In this anthology incarcerated me in the Prison Literacy Project at S.C.I. Graterford contribute pieces about regretful decisions made or painful experiences in their youth, fearlessly exposing their vulnerability. The men chose many methods for sharing their messages; some wrote letters to their young selves or family members, telling of their struggles growing up in difficult circumstances. They reached out from behind the prison walls to caution young offenders while they still have time to change their lives, but they speak to us all. They remind us all about choices, consequences, and caring for others. Read more…

Icon

When Mr. Finger builds his first Finger a half mile high flipping off the fabulously wealthy, Peter Boatz, a professor of Icons, finally has a fertile subject for his Icons of Power book. But this gigantic, obscene monument to the rich, with enormous grassroots support, soon takes on multiple meanings for Boatz: the abstract versus the concrete, the ideal versus the real, and involvement in the world versus withdrawal. Read more…

Too Cool

Sixteen-year-old Elbert Earl Evans (known as Triple E) bursts out of Goodpasture Correctional Facility and speeds toward freedom in a stolen Oldsmobile. As he outraces the police, his car stalls in the Colorado badlands in the middle of a snowstorm and he is stranded with his girl, Jeanne. Once he sets out on foot to find help in a landscape of bone-chilling desolation, his mind becomes a blizzard of memories and images, from the soft, sweet voice of his grandmother to his father’s cruel betrayal to the stark words of a writer named Kafka. The past becomes inseparable from the present as he fights to stay alive–and relives the twisting, tragi-comic odyssey that has brought him to this desperate point. Read more…

Runnin’ Around: The Serving House Book of Infidelity

Infidelity anyone? Vicariously enjoy the unfaithfulness of twenty-four writers in this anthology, Runnin’ Around, subtitled The Serving House Book of Infidelity. The cover is a black- and-white Mark Hillringhouse photograph of an appropriately seedy motel advertising day-rates. However, the content is not seedy at all, including Pulitzer Prize winning poet Stephen Dunn, who leads off with a poem that originally appeared in the New Yorker, inspiring editors Kennedy and Cummins to solicit eleven poets, two essayists, and eleven fiction writers to take a turn at telling a tale of infidelity, be it carnal or spiritual or somewhere in between. Included is the work of poets Dunn, Jack Ridl, H. L. Hix, Laura McCullough, Rick Mulkey, Steve Davenport, Renée Ashley, Dan Turèll, Elisabeth Murawski, Flower Conroy, and Mark Hillringhouse, essays by Rebecca Chace and Minna Proctor, and short stories by Timmy Waldron, Per Smidl, Duff Brenna, Roisin McLean, Victor Rangel-Ribeiro, Greg Herriges, Susan Tekulve, Dennis F. Bormann and Kennedy and Cummins as well. Read more…

Local Music

A man who can’t bring himself to return to the apartment of his failing marriage, a woman spied on by a neighbor, a father terrified by the four-year- old next door, a boy living in a house haunted by his mother’s madness, a mother whose children are freezing in a heatless bedroom–the characters in the Stories of Local Music are unsettled in their own homes, their lives dissonant and discordant. Read more…

Sympathetic People

Both the beauty and frailty of human connections are seen in the thirteen stories collected in Sympathetic People. Here are women and men struggling to find love, meaning, happiness in marriage, adulterous affairs, art, meditation, and even the passage from life to death. Longing generated by loss is everywhere–in the death of a son, the end of a marriage, the slide from hope ignited by Neil Armstrong’s moon walk to hopelessness after President Kennedy’s death.In “Hindsight,” Jessie, a hippie in Lawrence, Kansas, opts for what she assumes is stability in a world of change, only to be brought up short years later when her life veers off its predicted path. “The Secrets of Snakes” reveals the early ruptures in a marriage and a wife’s futile attempts to stop them even as she tries to care for her son’s pet racer. In “The Jewel Box,” a grandmother promises to let her granddaughter know what Heaven is like after she passes and if, in fact, it looks like the Art Deco greenhouse built in St. Louis during the 1904 World’s Fair. And in “Versions,” a newlywed in Plano, Texas, entertains her sometimes angry husband’s first wife and realizes too late what she has given up in choosing him. Read more…

Wagon 537 Christiania

Frivolity, joy and self discovery are the things which, Les Stein, the protagonist of Wagon 537 Christiania, arrives at in his two-year sojourn in the freetown of Christiania. Fleeing from a world of angst and stress, longing for the woman who left him, and frustrated with the stale facets of modern life such as his university studies Stein develops a new understanding of love, independence and self realization. Read more…