“Messenger from Mystery,” by Deno Trakas

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl Messenger from Mystery is Dr. Deno Trakas’s first novel, but he’s not unknown to upstate South Carolina readers. He holds the Laura and Winston Hoy Chair in English at Wofford and has published both fiction and poetry in journals and anthologies. The novel harks back to the latter years of […]

Allen Mendenhall Interviews Katherine Clark, Author of The Harvard Bride and The Ex-Suicide

AM:  I’m only now reading The Harvard Bride, which I somehow missed upon its release, and now we’re on the verge of the publication of The Ex-Suicide.  I’d like to talk to you about both books. KC: Don’t forget The Headmaster’s Darlings and All the Governor’s Men, the first two novels in the Mountain Brook […]

Allen Mendenhall Interviews Bren McClain, Author of “One Good Mama Bone”

AM:  Thanks for the interview, Bren.  Before we talk about your new book, One Good Mama Bone, I’d like to mention something we have in common: We both studied English at Furman University.  Who were your professors there? BM:  Dr. Stanley Crowe was my adviser.  Also Dr. Pate, Gil Allen and Ann Sharp.  Loved them. […]

“One Good Mama Bone,” by Bren McClain

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl To begin: This is a book about a woman who talks to a cow and comes to believe she can learn some things from the cow, Big Mama Red, whose child is a steer named Lucky. The woman is Sarah Creamer and the novel is set in the 1950s in […]

“The Final Days of Great American Shopping,” by Gilbert Allen

Reviewed by Allen Mendenhall With so many journals and genres available today, the dependable reviewer has a duty to warn off the noble optimists and advise the faint-hearted when a book is not for them.  Obligation thus requires that I caution readers:  Gilbert Allen’s The Final Days of Great American Shopping, a collection of short […]

“The Time the Waters Rose,” by Paul Ruffin

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl The Time the Waters Rose is a collection of eight short stories by the late Paul Ruffin.  One of the eight is less a short story and more an excerpt from his 2002 novel, Pompeii Man. The collection opens with a “Preface,” part biography and part apology or defense.  Ruffin […]

“All the Governor’s Men,” by Katherine Clark

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl I title this review “The Overly-Stuffed Novel,” a designation that calls attention to Willa Cather’s credo stated with some punchy forcefulness in her essay “The Novel Demeuble.”  The point is simple enough: Aesthetically, the novel does not merely catalog the furniture of life, physical things, processes, sensations, thoughts.  She analogizes […]

“The Stone Necklace,” by Carla Damron

Reviewed by Daniel James Sundahl In my years as a college professor at a small, private liberal arts college, administration, faculty, and staff were in loco parentis; it was understood that the professor took on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent. It’s a curious status, however, with interesting premises both psychological and […]