“Over the Plain Houses,” by Julia Franks

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl The title for Julia Franks’s novel is drawn from an Anne Sexton poem, “Her Kind”:  “I have gone out, a possessed witch, / haunting the black air, braver at night; / dreaming evil, I have done my hitch /over the plain houses, light by light . . . .”   The […]

“Friday Afternoon and Other Stories,” by T. D. Johnston

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl The phrase “twilight zone” has likely become iconic in American culture.  Episodes from the television series contained elements of drama, suspense or horror, and aspects of the macabre.  Gauntlet Press has published collections of original “The Twilight Zone” scripts, some with Rod Serlings’s hand-written edits.  A former student of mine […]

“Where There Are Two Or More,” by Elizabeth Genovise

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl The thirteen stories in Elizabeth Genovise’s Where There Are Two Or More are set in the mountains of eastern Tennessee.  It’s her second collection and a marked advance in craft and theme from her first collection, A Different Harbor.  The stories are beautifully intimate, intensely direct, and evidence as to […]

“Suburban Gospel,” by Mark Beaver

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl Mark Beaver’s Suburban Gospel is one more memoir of an adolescent wandering toward adulthood, a Bible Belt Baptist southern version of Roth’s Portnoy but without the gnawing sense of psychological guilt expiated on the analyst’s couch.  It is, on the other hand, exuberantly “guilt-edged,” the saga of a young man […]

“The Redeemers,” by Ace Atkins

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl I’m guessing it would have been 1976, graduate school, and a seminar in the American 1930s, history, literature, political thought, economics, and culture, the latter the more encompassing word in that list.  I thought to make an argument that “nascent” to American Literature during that decade was the emergence of […]

“A Different Harbor,” by Elizabeth Genovise

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl The five stories in Elizabeth Genovise’s A Different Harbor mark her publishing debut and are impressive for their clear-eyed compassion.  The stories are beautifully intimate and intensely direct, poignant journeys into the burl-wood heart of what it means to be not only humanly complicit but also safe from strife while […]

“Under the Same Blue Sky,” by Pamela Schoenewaldt

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl One needs to note at the beginning a difference between historical authenticity and historicity. It would seem a paradox, for example, to argue that historical fiction is an unlikely melding, the history and fiction genres being critically apart. If, however, a novel’s plot takes place in a setting located in […]

“Last Words of the Holy Ghost,” by Matt Cashion

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl Matt Cashion’s short story collection, Last Words of the Holy Ghost, won the 2015 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction, thus announcing a reputable voice in American writing. The twelve stories, however, circle around the more common elements in absurdist fiction: satire, dark humor, the abasement of reason. It’s […]