A thoughtful and evocative collection of tales and poems.


This varied collection of short stories and sonnets delves into themes of life, death, love, and war.

Morrissey opens his thoughtfully crafted book with an introduction recounting the trials and tribulations of self-publishing a book of collected works at a time when streaming platforms are grabbing potential readers’ attention. After plans to traditionally publish a collection fell through, Morrissey was inspired to create Twelve Winters, a press that focuses on innovative stories for avid readers. He stresses that “the worlds created through fictive imagination…will always come…to their fullest fruition via the participation of the reader.” This opens the door to allow readers to bring their own interpretations, and their own inspirations, to the stories and sonnets that follow. The collection is divided into three sections of short stories (“Crowsong Stories,” “Transitional Stories,” and “Early Stories”) and one of sonnets. The first two parts, especially “Transitional Stories,” contain deeply descriptive, imaginative, and sometimes haunting tales; the author excels in setting an atmospheric and natural scene, namely in the evocative stories “A Wintering Place” and “Communion With the Dead,” which wrestle with ideas of life and death in vivid, descriptive prose: “He had the mad notion this was not Angela at all but a stranger staging a malignant prank, or even some otherworld demon toying with his soul.” In the third part, he turns the spotlight toward characters; often, the narrators are flawed men living ordinary lives, and though some rely on tired tropes (such as attractive, empty young women), the stories are short, powerful, and simply written, making the reader’s interpretation an important contribution. The sonnets embrace similar themes of growth and change (“Seedlings,” “Obsolescence”), death (“Shroud,” “Pilgrim,” “Acts,” “Dignity”), and the beauty found in everyday life (“Ingots,” “Symmetry”). Morrissey does an excellent job of blending vastly different stories and sonnets together to create one cohesive color—and then places the paintbrush in the reader’s hand.

A thoughtful and evocative collection of tales and poems.

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2023

ISBN: 9781733194990

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Twelve Winters Press

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2023

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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A loose-limbed, bighearted Hollywood yarn.


A fictional account of the agony and ecstasy of making a movie, from someone who’d know.

For his sprightly debut novel, actor/writer/national treasure Hanks—author of the story collection Uncommon Type, 2017—imagines the making of Knightshade: The Lathe of Firefall, a mashup of Marvel-esque superhero fare, war story, and artsy melodrama. The movie’s concept seems like an unworkable, even bad idea, which is part of the point—Hanks stresses the notion that successful movies aren’t just a matter of story but the people who make them. So he’s assembled an engrossing cast of characters: Bob Falls, the World War II vet who served as a flamethrower in the Pacific theater and became a PTSD–struck biker; Robby Andersen, the nephew who turned him into alternative-comix antihero Firefall; Bill Johnson, the well-decorated Spielberg-ian director who acquires the Firefall property and writes the script; and the small army of actors, assistants, and technicians charged with shooting the film in the Northern California town of Lone Butte—on time, lest morale collapse and the budget inflate. Hanks ably depicts how easily things derail. The male lead’s ego wrecks the shooting schedule. A stray social media post complicates security. On-set flirtations threaten a marriage. But the novel reflects the sunny stick-to-it-iveness of many of Hanks’ roles, and his central thesis is that every movie’s true hero is anybody who reduces friction. To that end, his most enchanting and best-drawn characters are the director’s assistant, Al Mac-Teer (full name Allicia), and Ynez Gonzalez-Cruz, a ride-share driver with no movie experience but a knack for problem-solving. “Most of the film business is done by meeting folks,” one character says, and Hanks suggests that meeting the right people—and being kind to them—is half the battle of successful moviemaking. Overly romantic? Consider the source. Regardless, it’s a well-turned tale of a Hollywood (maybe) success. (Sikoryak illustrates some comic-book pages related to the Firefall backstory and film.)

A loose-limbed, bighearted Hollywood yarn.

Pub Date: May 9, 2023

ISBN: 9780525655596

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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