Intriguing journeys through ambiguous states of being.

MOONFLOWER IN AUTUMN RAIN

COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES & POEMS

These short stories, poems, and a novella explore surreal landscapes of emotions and relationships.

The first four parts of this collection each contain a short story followed by three related poems. The final section features a novella and a single poem. A sense of surrealism and uncertain identity underlies these pieces, as in the opening tale, “The Antonym of Flower is Wind,” which begins with a dreamlike image: “The swan that sleeps on people’s bellybuttons.” It’s offered by a young woman called Lorelei, who fascinates the narrator, but he eventually realizes that “something was leaving” inside her, going somewhere he can’t follow. Over the years, some things remind him of Lorelei: the harmonica, fireflies. In the narrator’s mailbox is a letter from Lorelei telling him: “You’re over there, over in the real world. I’m not there….You’d never find me. He remembers her saying she can’t ever be human, and “in some ways, you’re just like me.” The accompanying poems use associated imagery; in “No Longer Human,” for example, “the fireflies float / then no longer glow / … / So you, too, / so warm and loving, may no longer stay.” In another story, “A Silent Anemone,” a man claims to be from Venus, and the narrator (who pretends to be deaf but isn’t) can’t help believing him. In other tales, characters transform themselves, confront death and evanescence, and look for the real and unreal within the mundane. In his book, Stone (I’m a Duck With Alligator Fingers, 2018) writes in a captivating magical realist vein. His images are dreamy, too, and often melancholic: A girl who tries to sail her ship to the moon discovers that “even in the myth, the moon failed.” Romance, or at least the promise of it, underlies many of these stories, with the mysterious embodied by an attractive young woman. A dream girl isn’t the freshest trope, but it’s complicated by an aura of unease or alienation. At times, the author overrelies on cultural touchstones, especially songs, to establish taste and coolness credentials (including “Another World” by Kinoko Teikoku; “The Dandelion Girl” by Robert F. Young; and Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory). 

Intriguing journeys through ambiguous states of being.

Pub Date: April 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-49758-7

Page Count: 190

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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LAST ORDERS

Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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