Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 7:00 pm
Moonstone Poetry @Fergie’s Pub
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 12:30 pm
University of Penn Bookstore
3601 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
At last! Alison Hicks' poetry collection You Who Took the Boat Out. We hit a snag yesterday in getting the media materials out, but we are happy to announce that they are out and we are proud of Alison's book.
It has been a beauty to work with. You can buy her book on Amazon (with 2-day shipping) or through our site.
Here's a bit about the collection:
A woman in middle-age takes a canoe out onto the water at night and must discern obstacles barely visible to keep her craft afloat. Her reward is a vision of stars transformed as they are reflected back through water. Her guide is the loon, whose red eye is capable of seeing underwater, and whose wail echoes and beckons. An adolescent whose mother has become ill must traverse the big country she finds inside herself to find a life worth living. A daughter mourns a father. In this collection, Alison Hicks looks beneath the surface of our emotional lives to murky shapes: the twists and turns we are unable to predict, the scrape of love and the experience of being lost, the whimsy of our fantasies, visitation by spirit guides of myth and legend, things we try to keep secret and yet seek to reveal, the hurt that has happened and the tasks to be undertaken.
We Might As Well Be Underwater is a collection of poetry split into two parts: Travelling and Not Travelling. Cooper-Novack lyrically discusses family, love, death, aging, and illness through travels. The collection travels through Cape Town, Sydney, Venice, Moscow, Chicago, Antarctica, London, Tokyo, Oregon, Florida, and many more places while also uniting the world through experiences.
Readers will enjoy the sense of space and how certain memories or ideas are sprung from a specific environment. Throughout her travels Cooper-Novack explores many spaces, cleverly exposing emotion in places revisited and sharing memories in new environments. They will both feel foreign and familiar as she leads us to both specific and general places (places that are described and could be in any community). Cooper-Novack lyrically composes stanzas that discuss the journey of life through aging and travels while also discovering home.
Anne Leigh Parrish's collection By the Wayside released just a week ago and the reviews are really swell. We wanted to share one of our favorites with you, written by Chrissi Sepe on Amazon:
Anne Leigh Parrish's stories hit an emotional nerve which ensures you will remember them. One of my favorite stories in her newest collection, "By The Wayside," is "Where Love Lies." It is about a woman named Dana who moves to a quiet, yet gossipy, island town to escape her former life. Her self-esteem is wrecked, and she wants to start over and rebuild her confidence and heal herself through her love of painting. However, as she befriends an older man and finds herself attracted to another man closer to her age, she realizes that this beautiful island town is everything but serene, and danger lurks because, as she says: "Hating was far easier than loving, and came more naturally."
Yet Dana survives, as Parrish's female protagonists seem to do. No matter how difficult situations get for these strong women, they persist and often turn out wiser and more confident and capable than they were when we first met them in their stories. Not only do we as readers discover shocking truths about them, but the characters themselves are often surprised at the capabilities they hold inside and of what they are able to achieve if they just have the courage to speak up or to make changes in their lives.
In "How She Was Found," lead character, Fiona, begins the story described as a "mouse." She is compliant and insecure, and these traits are not likely to serve her well when she sets out as the only female on an archaeological dig with her professor and three male fellow graduate students. When she finds the bone of a human hand, she believes her professor will finally take her seriously, as she feels he never listens to her.
Where to Buy Anne's Book
Q: Many of the characters in your stories are men struggling with guilt, shame, confusion, lust, and existential angst. What draws you to these characters?
You’re talking about the essential building blocks to a healthy existence! Seriously, most of us spend our entire lives wallowing in that emotional stew.
The night before my father died – at age 90 – he was still feeling angst over his father’s mistreatment eighty years earlier. Eighty years! My Dad was born during a worldwide plague, lived through the Depression, fought in World War II, almost died several times, helped raise five children, managed to construct a terrific life with a great wife and family, and live twenty years longer than he ever could have imagined. But the biggest thing on his mind as he slipped away was his abusive father.
That incident, along with a personal experience that happened a few years later and which at the time seemed traumatic, was the catalyst that led to my search for emotional peace. I was feeling guilt, discontent, and anger that, especially considering my advantaged and relatively trouble-free life, didn’t make sense to me.
Writing became my therapy, and in particular, writing about angst-ridden characters became a way to exorcise my own emotional demons. The challenge is to lose the baggage that doesn’t matter, while maintaining a proper dose of self-analysis to keep you from becoming a complete asshole.
Q: Several of your stories are about the struggle to adapt to a new reality, both from the standpoint of getting older and also because what was once familiar is quickly vanishing as technology advances. A few of your characters see the benefits of technology, but some also experience the downside, like your character in “Hecklers” that becomes an overnight YouTube star. What are your attitudes about technology and how does the tension between getting older and keeping pace with our rapidly changing world inform your writing?
I am deeply conflicted on the entire issue of technology. It makes me sad to see a couple or an entire family ignoring each other at dinner, their gazes tilted into their crotches, preferring online interaction over the people in front of them. That being said, technology has been very good to me personally, and it seems an essential tool for the challenging future humans face. I am also somewhat of an early adopter, and can’t imagine life without many of my silly devices. Could life exist without Sonos? Of course not. Plus, not a day goes by that I don’t see some interesting storyline in our love of technology.
My biggest concern—and the latest literary theme that seems to be driving me—is that we are in uncharted human territory, and we don’t know how this will all develop. Communication has become so trivial, our societal heroes so plastic, that it all feels very out of control. Online communication is uniquely anonymous, so honesty, civility, and compassion are no longer valued. In many ways it has become a digital highway for hate. That was certainly a big part of my motivation for writing “One Star.”
For the first time, human beings seem to be switching ecosystems. Since our origin we have been part of the interconnected system of living organisms that make up this planet. I spend a lot of my free time working on environmental issues, and one of the things you quickly learn in how connected all living things are, and what seems to be a relatively minor disruption can have major consequences. Our blatant disregard for the earth, and our relentless drive to instead plug into the worldwide web portends a big change. It feels like we might be abandoning this living ecosystem, to jack into a manufactured world that has completely different rules, and outcomes, we might not understand.
Q: What do you think women would think of the men in your stories? Do you think most men view women the way your characters do?
Ah, that seems to be a bit of a loaded question. I am the first to admit that some of the men I write about are truly awful human beings, but hopefully the reader understands that I am usually being satirical, or in my darker stories, exploring those horrifying, yet compelling personalities that make us shudder. And I totally reject the idea that writing should be hampered by political correctness, as life isn’t politically correct.
You might not like all my characters, but they will never bore you. Sometimes I burden a single character with the terrible traits I’ve observed in multiple individuals to better highlight a point, making that personality a little over the top. Throughout the collection I also hope the reader discovers many authentic, likable men. The man in Costco Girl, and The Tower are confused romantics. The fathers in Midnight Elvis and One Star are emblematic of the strong, wonderful, flawed men I knew growing up that were just trying to provide for their families.
Q: You’re a 30-year veteran of the advertising world. How does that inform your writing?
Advertising can be a terrific training ground for a writer. Most importantly, it teaches you creative discipline. You’re not allowed to have writer’s block. Colleagues and clients are waiting, and your job is on the line. You have to create every single day, and meet every deadline. You grow accustomed, and in fact, appreciate constructive criticism and editing. By its very nature advertising forces brevity, and a multi-layered approach to communication, which can be a great asset.
It also forces you to stay culturally aware, and depending on the kind of advertising you are involved with, it can provide you with a lifetime of interesting characters: crazy inventors, bombastic CEOs (one was accused of murder), sociopath advertising directors, sex fiends, religious fanatics, a narcoleptic woman that would fall asleep in meetings while eating Dairy Queen Dip Cones, Mafia members, movie and television stars both on the way up and on the way out…. A cavalcade of awful, wonderful, slightly insane characters that inspired me with a lifetime of stories.
Q: You grew up in Montana, but now divide your time between California, Oregon, and Washington. Most of your stories are set in those places. What significance does “place” play in your life and your writing?
I’m acutely interested in the connection between place and persona, and to understand the connection I think you need to spend time there, so all of my stories are rooted in locations that I know well. I will often research a hundred years’ of a town’s history before I use it in a story. It helps me, and I think it helps the reader. I want them to literally be able to smell the place, and know how the location has shaped the character.
In my story “Impala,” a boy is kidnapped outside of Sunset Bowling Alley in Billings, Montana. Sunset is a real place that I spent a lot of time frequenting as a kid. I loved it, but it always seemed sinister to me. When I was considering the location for a kidnapping, it seemed perfect.
A lot of my work takes place in Montana—in fact I’m working on a novel right now that’s set in Montana and Oregon, the two states I know best. Generally, I just like people from Montana. The good ones have a libertarian streak that transcends the usual biases. They tend to be self-sufficient, and are generous. They’re tough, but very friendly. And they never feel inclined to demonstrate how smart they are, it just unfolds in normal conversation. Dewey, the Sheriff in The Purification, reminds me a lot of the men I grew up around. He’s economical in emotion and word, with a deep sense of duty, a wide tender streak, and a surprisingly good sense of humor. Montana also gave me my literary roots. I spent my undergraduate years at the University of Montana.
Q: Are there particular kinds of stories you’re drawn to? Ones you steer clear of?
It sounds awfully basic, but I like a story with a beginning, middle, and an end. I tend to value concept equally with craft. I want to take my readers on a journey, as opposed to just painting a beautiful scene, and I like my characters big and messy. I want a laugh, or at least a smile, or perhaps to shock you.
Q: Some of your stories are based on true events like “Dick Cheney Shot Me In the Face” and “The Big Chocolate Whizzle.” What inspires you to fictionalize and flesh out true events?
There is a basis of truth to all my stories, as I tend to be a collector of unusual events that inspire me to investigate more, and imagine the circumstances that preceded the story.
A few years ago I was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming at a fly-fishing tournament. One night Dick Cheney showed up, floating through the room like a smiling corpse, and of course the conversation among my friends migrated to his hunting skills. Cheney is so iconic, and I became very curious. I read a couple books on the man, and researched his background. While my narrator in the story is fictional, all the facts about Cheney are true, and I thought it just became an interesting way to bridge fact and fiction.
Years ago my wife and I were on an overnight flight from LA to Australia, and when we woke up in the morning I discovered that the flight attendants had handcuffed a young man to a bathroom door in the rear of the plane. Sometime during the night he had gotten drunk, jumped up on his seat, and began urinating on his fellow passengers, which I believe placed him high on the terrible traveler scale. I researched the phenomenon, and discovered it was not all that unusual. Who would have thought that was a thing? The main episode that occurs in “The Big Chocolate Whizzle” is based on a real event I discovered during the research; a business executive overly imbibed on a flight, and ended up ruining his life. I wouldn’t have thought to make that one up.
Q: Many of your stories are darkly humorous and have hints of irreverence. How do you approach comic relief in your stories without being gratuitous?
Your question makes the kind inference that my work isn’t gratuitous. I do hope it isn’t, but sometimes it’s difficult not to cross a line, as it is often in the eye of the reader. About a year ago I received the following rejection letter from an editor: “Thanks for your submission. I found the story very insensitive and offensive on many levels, but I must say it was the best thing I read all week. It made me laugh out loud. Unfortunately, we could never publish it.” A week later another publication accepted it absent any trepidation, and it is in the collection. I will let the reader guess which story he was talking about.
Wit is its own brand of intelligence, and I admire and aspire to witty writing. Those that do it well can navigate potentially gratuitous subjects with grace. Take the fart joke. As told by guys like Adam Sandler it will always be gratuitous; more shocking than funny. But thirty years ago I read David Niven’s wonderfully witty biography, The Moon’s a Balloon, which contains the greatest fart joke ever told. I still clearly remember it; a wonderful story involving Cary Grant and a surprised fan.
Sometimes I’m unsure if I crossed a line, and I tend to call on five or six different people that I respect to read the work. Each of them has a different comic sensibility that I understand, and I look to their responses to judge if the piece is working. They almost never agree, and I don’t write by committee, but sometimes there is consensus about something that escaped me that I take seriously.
Q: What books do you remember most from childhood? Any stories or characters that really stuck with you through the years? Is there a particular book that made you want to write, and who influences you now?
My literary journey began with The Hardy Boys, Jack London, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I remember being obsessed with Treasure Island, The Swiss Family Robinson, A Wrinkle in Time, My Side of the Mountain, The Outsiders, and The Catcher in the Rye. From there I discovered Stephen King, and a host of mystery writers often read via flashlight under the covers.
Hunter S. Thompson’s work was probably my first major literary crush as a near adult. I’ve admired Gay Talese, especially Thy Neighbor’s Wife, though I have to admit I’m a bit baffled by his newest book, The Voyeur’s Motel.
More recently I’m inspired by Tom Perotta’s ability to move from suburban wit to dark, high concept tales. I’ve had a life-long love affair with Elmore Leonard’s writing, especially his incredible dialogue. I’m a fan of Richard Russo’s dry humor, and smart, stoic men. The opening paragraph to his newest book, Everybody’s Fool, was a delightfully humbling experience. I will always read anything Cormac McCarthy writes, though sometimes it’s a bit difficult to stomach. Carl Hiaasen is a wonderfully funny satirist, and I love Dave Eggers take on culture.
A COMPELLING AND IRREVERENT LITERARY DEBUT BY A FORMER ADVERTISING
DICK CHENEY SHOT ME IN THE FACE: And Other Tales Of Men In Pain (Unsolicited Press | February 17, 2016) is an enthralling story collection by Timothy O’Leary. Unexpected, humorous, sometimes dark, and surprisingly heartfelt, here are tales that explore the secret life of men as they pass into adulthood, middle age, and old age confronting lust, pain, guilt, bewilderment, and mortality. O’Leary has won numerous literary awards for his stories and his title story was a finalist for the Mark Twain Award for Humor Writing.
You’ve probably heard about the man who Dick Cheney shot in the face, but what if he wasn’t the only victim? In the title story of the collection, we meet Henry who gets shot in the face by Dick Cheney and is blinded in one eye. It’s not anger that overcomes Henry, but a sense of guilt for not warning the next victim. In this unique and funny story O’Leary explores the shame that comes from pride, the anxiety of helplessness, and whether men of a certain age can have deep friendships with other men. While a fictional character tells this story, all the facts about Cheney are true.
Ian Davis is an obsessive-compulsive loner and a recovering alcoholic. But when a homeless man––who closely resembles the actor Gary Busey––starts harassing him on his way to work, he resorts to old habits to ease his anxiety and loneliness. Ian’s bad habits lead to a deadly confrontation and what he thinks is self- defense is quickly deemed murder. Before Ian has even been arrested, a video of the confrontation surfaces on the Internet. In “Homeless Gary Busey,” the reader is forced to question the power of perception, technology turning the public into judge and jury, and how a single event or misunderstanding can take someone from relative comfort to the street.
Kenny, a former sitcom star, is a veteran comedian who quickly realizes his act doesn’t hold up against a savvy millennial comic named Donny, in “Hecklers.” In a desperate attempt to level the playing field, Kenny tries to bond with Donny by assisting in vandalizing a patron’s car in the comedy club’s parking lot. But unbeknownst to Kenny he was being videotaped for Donny’s YouTube channel. The video suddenly goes viral and Kenny quickly finds out that overnight success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
In eighteen stories we also meet: a distraught husband who experiences heartbreak and salvation after his wife dies in a car accident caused by a texting teenager; a successful man who returns to his hometown and finds his first love stacking jars at a local Costco; a sheriff in a Western town circa early 1900s confronts a pedophile and his own past abuse; an Iraq war veteran turned bodyguard who encounters the biggest threat of his life in a Las Vegas Nightclub; a successful attorney who abandons his legal career to play the iPad guitar.
While DICK CHENEY SHOT ME IN THE FACE is eclectic in range, O’Leary has a knack for telling stories that all have immediacy and purpose. His thirty-year career creating award-winning ads has endowed him with an entertaining style, an ear for dialogue, and the ability to boil down larger issue with dexterity. In spare, at times satirical, and illuminating prose, his stories delve into far ranging issues from the homelessness crisis, to the positive and negative impact of technology, to Baby Boomers trying to navigate an increasingly complex world turned upside down by the digitization of communication and business. Fans of Tom Perotta, BJ Novak, and Carl Hiaasen will enjoy this stunning debut from an interesting and immensely talented new writer.
February 16, 2017 marks the end and the beginning (so the middle?) of a long and wonderful journey with Timothy O'Leary and his short story collection Dick Cheney Shot Me in the Face*.
It's been a wild ride. And we are thrilled to see O'Leary make his debut in a graceful and daring move as he opens his launch in Portland this weekend.
But before we get to that...we want to share one of the reviews left by a reader, Jeff Merrick.
And when you're done, head on over and get a copy before they run out! Because the just might.
In the opening and title story of his riveting collection, Timothy O’Leary returns fire, blasting the S.O.B. Cheney with true facts spun out by a fictional victim in a most entertaining way. As with all of the stories, O’Leary’s exuberant, fast-paced style bobs us down rivers of his savvy takes on the cultures, fun, fears, and realities of our time.
“One Star” gets into the heads and hearts of a struggling immigrant restaurant family and struggling, married, U.S. born customers disappointed by a declined Groupon. A drunken Yelp-like review exposes a cleavage too often exploited by politicians and leading to consequences both sides regret.
A has-been sitcom actor was content with his life of booze and pussy as a travelling stand-up comic until he is blind-sided by an up-and-coming talent using the technology and tools of today in “Hecklers.”
A widower who avoided cell phones and blames them for the death of his wife takes another look at his departed wife and the phone’s benefits when the neighbor boy shows him a video of her at her best in “The Tower.”
Each story in this collection is a gem of thought, language and craft. Some are funny, some are darkly funny (e.g., “Adolph’s [Hitler] Return”), and others are dramatic. All are superbly entertaining. Together, they process and contextualize the world around us from the perspective of someone who has been paying attention for the past four decades.
Personally, I finish about one in every nine books I begin. I finished this one in no time. My biggest criticism is that I wish there were even more than eighteen stories.
In a spirit of fairness, we have decided to hold a nonfiction essay writing contest. Most years, we do a fiction or poetry writing contest, but 2017 is the year of nonfiction, so we want to honor all of you wonderful and daring nonfiction writers.
You can read these rules and submit here.
February 10 Pub West Conference
February 16 XRAY in the Morning
8:00AM Details TBD
February 18 Mother Foucault’s hosted by Dig A Pony Bar
7:00PM @ Dig a Pony
7:30-8PM – Reading at Dig A Pony
8PM-8:30PM – Audience Q&A
Book signing + mingling at bar and bookshop: 8:30p onward.
Fact & Fiction
U of M Bookstore
Cocktail Reception to follow. Details TBD.
Barnes & Noble
Reading/Signing at 7PM
530 S 24th Street West
Billings, MT 59102
NEW YORK CITY
Reading/Stuart Elliot at 7PM
828 Broadway (12th st)
New York, NY 10003
Porter Square Books
Reading/Signing/Q&A at 7PM
Porter Square Shopping Center
25 White St.
Cambridge, MA 02140
Reading from 5-6PM
470 East Valley Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93108
Al Chavez Luncheon @ Red Barn
3539 Saguno St
Santa Ynez, CA
$25.00 Book Author Reception-Concert-Lunch
9:30-10:00 Check-in / Booksigning
11:30-12:00 Lunch (Red Barn Classic Burger)
12:00-1:00 Talk & Booksigning
In conversation w/Auggie Smith from 7L30PM-8:30PM
453 S Spring St – Ground Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Anne Leigh Parrish's "By the Wayside" short story collection releases on 2.8.17....here's a code for a discounted ebook!
Anne Leigh Parrish's short story collection By the Wayside releases on February 8, 2017. To honor that release and show our love for our readers, we would like to offer her ebook at 20% off via Smashwords!
The code: SH34U
You can get your copy HERE. Preorders are accepted. The code lasts 30 days and is available to the first 100 downloads. So get your read on and check out Anne's book!
Don't know anything about the book? Here's some information:
Marvelous. Honest. Generous. From the first story to the last, "By the Wayside" catches your attention and demands that you give into its every whirl. Each character unfolds with a precision that will have you wondering how Parrish managed to create such real-to-the-bones people within a world that captivates you with ease.
Unsolicited Press is launching a search for the very best nonfiction essay. The contest is open from February 2, 2017 through to March 15, 2017.
All essay lengths will be considered.
The Grand Prize Winner will receive guaranteed publication from U.P. for a book-length piece of nonfiction that expands upon the essay or another topic completely.
The top 15 essayists will be published in an essay collection to be distributed worldwide. Essayists will be heavily promoted as well.
Interested? Learn more here.
If you weren't able to make it out to Michael Overa's reading in Seattle, here are some stunning photos! You can follow Michael on tumblr for the latest news and events.
And if you haven't purchased a copy of The Filled In Spaces just yet, we are working hard at selling the first 100 copies of his book. Once we hit 100 copies from our store, we will release Michael's book through all major distribution channels. Help Michael by buying a book today!
Last winter, Adela Najarro came to us with a brilliant proposal: let's make a chapbook that includes thoughtful critique and provoking questions, which can be easily used by teachers and readers.
We said absolutely!
In conjunction with the Puente Project and Adela Najarro's poetic finesse, we have been luck enough to make such a chapbook.
Najarro feverishly wrote the chapbook with all of the details for each poem and it is available for purchase via Amazon on January 27, 2017.
If you haven't heard of Adela Najarro's poetry, you should take a pause from whatever you're reading right now and scoop up her book Twice Told Over or Split Geography (or both!).
We Might As Well Be Underwater is a collection of poetry split into two parts: Travelling and Not Travelling.
Cooper-Novack lyrically discusses family, love, death, aging, and illness through travels. The collection travels through Cape Town, Sydney, Venice, Moscow, Chicago, Antarctica, London, Tokyo, Oregon, Florida, and many more places while also uniting the world through experiences. She lyrically composes stanzas that discuss the journey of life through aging and travels while also discovering home.
Readers will enjoy the sense of space and how specific memories or ideas are sprung from a specific environment. Throughout her travels Cooper-Novack explores many spaces, cleverly exposing emotion in places revisited and sharing memories in new environments. They will both feel foreign and familiar in both specific and general spaces.
Poet, playwright, and writer Gemma Cooper-Novack has had her poetry published in more than twenty journals. She also won the OUTSpoken Poetry Prize at Sundance Publishing in 2014. We Might As Well Be Underwater is her first book of poetry.
You can grab her book on our site or any major retailer.
(Want to see what Unsolicited Press is up to in the coming months? Grab a copy of our January 2017 magazine that provides lengthy excerpts of recently published and forthcoming books.
This edition features excerpts from Timothy O'Leary's "Dick Cheney Shot Me in the Face", Gemma Cooper-Novack's "We Might As Well Be Underwater", and many many more. Not to mention some delicious writerly advice and a master study.
Get it exclusively on Amazon Kindle. Free copies will be available for download for a limited time(from January 17-21 on Amazon Only). Click this link here.
A man decides to transform himself into a bird to escape his phone-wielding, formaldehyde-scented girlfriend. A professional clipboarder spends her days enduring the humiliation cast upon her by potential donors and her nights conjuring visions of the Appalachian Trail.
Missoula, MT - January, 9 2017 - The stories in “How to Find a Flock” reveal characters and settings – both implicitly and explicitly connected – that explore the inherent difficulties and the unforeseen elation in forming connections – romantic, spiritual, economic – amidst a post-empire landscape that inevitably crumbles as it retreats further into its digital self. Fatally marred by the cynicism, anxiety, and selfishness inherent in their generation’s version of cultural currency, the mostly young and unhinged protagonists of these stories realize, sometimes too late, that even the briefest moments of genuine human touch are more potent than any keystroke or screen swipe. Featuring a prose that is variously biting, reflective, caustic, and exuberant, “How to Find a Flock” is a collection for anyone who has ever felt the crush of loneliness, the indifference of a blinking monitor, the cruelty of utter boredom and hopelessness, and the exhilaration of finally doing something to change it.
Chris Vola was born in Hartford, Connecticut and is the author of two novels. He lives and bartends in New York. Unsolicited Press plucked Vola's short story collection out of nearly 2,000 submissions for its tenacity and must-read attitude.
Vola's “How to Find a Flock” can be purchased on Unsolicited Press's website or at any major retailer.
In the title story of Michael Overa's debut collection The Filled in Spaces, Edna finds her reality thrown out of whack by an "orphaned dream" that doesn't belong to her. She often struggles to recall her own dreams, but her recollections of this dream are so unsettling that she becomes certain not only that this new dream belongs to someone else, but also that it must be returned to its true dreamer. So that's exactly what she sets out to do.While the surreality of this tale is unique among the eleven stories that surround it, Edna's existential anxiety makes her fine company for every character in the book, even more so in how her quest then becomes weighed down by the quotidian. When she first startles awake from the lost dream, "her threadbare t-shirt adheres to her skin" as she pours herself a glass of water in a kitchen cluttered with dirty dishes and old shopping lists; later, wandering the aisles of Dollar Store -- that most artificial venue of faux frugality -- she waves away a store employee because if she needs any help at all, then it's not "the type of help that could be offered." Hers is a war that can only be waged alone.In this way, one of the pleasures of reading Overa's collection is seeing his characters fight against their worst selves, even as they are tripped up again and again by their mistakes.
In "Oxygen," a young man's grief over the death of a close friend makes it impossible for him to reciprocate the care his new girlfriend offers; similarly, the short-order cook fired from his job at the beginning of "Evidence of Life" pushes his luck from bad to worse when he ends a night of heavy drinking by relieving himself on the hood of a police car.But though these characters are often dashed against the rocks by inescapable tediums and societal norms, there is dignity, and even hope, in how Overa twists their fates. <
Nowhere is this more evident than the collection's first story, "Fix" -- a tale of two junkies, Loner and Dee, finding love among the ruins. Initially bonding over a shared cigarette, just minutes later they team together to mug a frat boy for his wallet and leather jacket. They turn this windfall into a stash of heroin, and the days and weeks that follow offer moments of both love and horror, as when shortly after Dee and Loner adopt a dog, they hear that a friend has Died from an overdose. They accept such injustices with blasé honesty -- death is part of the rugged lifepath their choices have set them upon -- yet that same comfort in societal shadows is what makes them incapable of admitting just precious their relationship is, and how essential to their survival.It's only later, when their connection is irrevocably severed, that Loner and Dee recognize the despair that surrounds them and the even deeper despair that lives within them. Loner's fury at this moment, a fury he has concealed even from himself, encompasses not only a weary rage at the fragility of love, but also an impotent fear of any world that could so easily destroy his happiness. Even this anguished burst, however, is tempered by the happier memories that will always stay with Loner, softening the denouement into tragedy instead of despondence.
Every story in the collection skillfully mines these rich intricacies except, unexpectedly, my personal favorite story, "Off the Tracks." Where other stories build to disaster, or perhaps rebuild in disaster's aftermath, only "Off the Tracks" starts with horror and descends into dread, creating a story in shades of black. "The car jerked like we'd gone over a pothole," it begins, but the two brothers in the car soon realize they've run over a cat, maiming it; when the older brother gives the creature a merciful death, the violent act reveals a darkness in both their hearts.
In most of Overa's stories, witnessing such misery might lessen the brothers' differences and bring them closer together, but this time one brother responds with revulsion, the other with audacious curiosity. It's a difference that ultimately splinters their relationship unforgivably and with chilling results.This unwillingness to turn away from darkness is central to the collection's success, giving these stories powerful truths about transcending the savage ordinariness that leads us to ennui.
Overa's characters are relatable and deserving of love, even as they confound and betray one another. Although these stories depict tough situations, the book's ultimate message seems to be a variation on E.M. Forster's famous wisdom: only connect -- or we'll never survive our own selves.
December 28, 2016 -- Missoula, MT: Unsolicited Press releases Ohan Hominis's poetry colection Scattered Allegories.
This poetry is alive. The author’s voice is so present, and the pictures they are painting and the emotions they are evoking are so clear, that it is undeniably excellent.
Hominis's words are so frank, clear of any metaphor or illusions that try to take you off course of what the author is trying to say. The poems are not pretenious, nor are they academic. Instead, what you get is a massive dose of refreshment. His words reach the folks that need poetry in their lives.
Well cared for.
Hominis gives us just enough information about the characters and settings to give us a picture of the subject, but does not bombard us with needless description or fluff.
This is an excellent example of modern poetry. Crafted, but not confined to rules, descriptive without rambling and insightful without being too philosophical. The author understands how to use the free verse style of poetry to its best advantage.
Where You Can Buy the Book:
Unsolicited Press Bookstore
Amazon (In Print)
Hominis does a helluva a job creating vibrant paintings in your brain with nothing but static text, helping explore the vast worlds of love and humanity.
Note: To be fully transparent, Ohan is like a brother to me. I see no point in writing an intentionally nebulous review that aims to obfuscate that fact, and I'll actually be leveraging our collaborative friendship to illuminate the power of this collection.
What is poetry? What is love? What does it mean to write the first, and feel the second?
While we may never fully grasp these concepts fully, I have full confidence that a conscious read of Ohan Hominis' Scattered Allegories will do exactly what the title suggests: shatter the shackles holding you in that metaphorical cave, allowing you to see at least some sliver of formerly distorted light. This poetry is real and raw, yet crafted with careful intention that brings you through the initial experience and subsequent analysis of a human being capable of sensing and communicating an impressively broad spectrum of thought and emotion.
This poetry will make you raise your eyebrows. It'll make you smile, smirk, and laugh. It may make you cry — though perhaps not for reasons you might expect. Some of it will likely turn you on, since certain scenes are reminiscent of depictions on Grecian urns. To quote an unassuming bystander following the performance of one of these poems: "That was sexy."
Above all else, though: this poetry will make you feel.
If the aim of prose is to communicate concrete ideas while also keeping the ethos engaged, poetry takes the opposite approach, assailing the senses to provide the reader or listener with something concrete — but something that only they could provide to themselves. So while Hominis speaks of his own experiences in exquisite detail, they draw parallels to your own experiences, and allow you to walk away with newly discovered pieces of yourself.
As a writer whose aims for poetry are more concrete and didactic, I'm seriously inspired by this collection. While it can be enjoyed by all, it's a reminder to writers in particular that there is no proper way to communicate a message — that the seemingly simple though actually quite difficult task of being true to your own feelings is all you must do to reach other minds. Hominis reminds us that this is in fact the only way to communicate anything concrete.
If you're a fan of poetry, there's no question that you'll enjoy this work. It's refreshingly unique and authentic, and represents a legion of artists who recognize that the purpose of creation is to create what is real to the creator. This is, after all, the only way that it can be real to anyone else.
If you're not into poetry, then simply forget the word poetry and pick up this collection of verbalized memories and sentiments as a means of opening your own perspective to whatever you've been missing.
There is an immense beauty in every walk of life, and works like these — due to their careful exploration of important ideas, while maintaining accessibility — are pivotal in helping us appreciate it.
At the end of December 2016, we will release Ohan Hominis's poetry collection Scattered Allegories. Ohan is a spoken word poet who actively performs. Here is one of his pieces.
Given that we are honest folks at Unsolicited Press, we will be the first ones to tell you that running a small press is expensive. And as many of you know, our team is full of gracious volunteers who only get paid when a book makes money. Sometimes that means our top editors make pennies or a few bucks after working 12-18 months on a title.
Sounds ridiculous right? Well, we love reading books and we love finding poetry and fiction and nonfiction collections that might go unnoticed by larger presses, not because of quality, but because of time/money. Since we don't operate on money, we have to find other ways to fund the press. But we don't want to fund the press unless those who are funding us are getting something in return. Last year, we rolled out the Feedback Donation option, which has helped several books get to the shelves.
At our last major funding meeting, we decided that we wanted to start a program that would benefit the press, the authors, and you, the reader. And we think that we may have come up with the coolest, nerdiest book program of all time.
At the end o f December 2016, we will release Ohan Hominis's poetry collection Scattered Allegories. Ohan is a spoken word poet who actively performs. Here is one of his pieces.
With Ohan Hominis's Scattered Allegories set to release on 12/28/16, we would like to share some of his many performances with you.
Ohan is a performance poet and participates in a lot of spoken word events. We are actively promoting his work because it deserves to be heard.
You can find out more about Ohan's book HERE.
We know that reading spoken word may be difficult at first, but no poet should be discounted because of this "mouth-to-page" barrier.
Hope you enjoy the performance and buy a copy of his limited run book.
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