Tag Archives: short stories

The Monday Book: THE SOUND OF HOLDING YOUR BREATH by Natalie Sypolt

breathThis book is out from West Virginia Press and I received a review copy for the Journal of Appalachian Studies. (I’m their book editor.) If anyone would like to review it for the Journal, please drop me an email or PM.

The short stories in Sypolt’s fiction debut are engrossing character studies. Most have wonderful characters who drive the plots around them. Siblings who see through each other’s deepest weaknesses. Young people who find reasons to stay or go. Nasty and nice Christians. In many ways, it’s like Sypolt took a classic Appalachian problem and wrote a “what if” story about it: what if you were gay and couldn’t tell your parents, but your elder sister knew because you fancied her husband? What if you were young enough to leave home and old enough to know you’d take your upbringing with you wherever you went?

Although you might be able to read the slim volume in a couple of hours, I recommend savoring. The prose is well-crafted, the words backlit with mountain sunsets. If it sounds like these are bib overall hayseed stories, think again. Stereotypes exist to be played with not to make the stories go. For instance, in one story of summer lake holidays, a boy aware of his beloved elder brother’s proclivities to violence suddenly finds himself seduced by the girl he thinks is pure. These are not easy straw characters. A preacher’s daughter finds nothing redeeming in her dad, but the way the story goes down gets complicated. Nobody gets off easy in a Sypolt short story.

If you are interested in Appalachian politics, culture, and families, you will find much to chew on here. If you like short stories that are well-written and character driven, you’ll love Sypolt’s debut. And remember, order it from your favorite local bookstore, not Amazon.

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Filed under book reviews, folklore and ethnography, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, publishing, reading, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, writing

Small Town Writer Tribes

The bookstore, like every small town shop, rejoices in several networks and tribal affiliations. The tribe of writers is just one of these. Today I present three members who have recently published their own work–resulting in some very diverse stories, now available on-line.

Joann Lee

Joann’s mom is the lady my friend Elizabeth and I bought our goats from. (Welcome to the networking hotbed of rural living!) Joann lives where people tend to believe her lifestyle is not okay and theirs to comment on; she balances daily between being herself and flying below the radar. It comes out in her work, a romance about two women from very different backgrounds spending the summer at the beach.

Broken Star is available from jms-books.com.

Sheila Mayes

Sheila is from Pennington Gap and has written a novel based on real events, the story of a young girl from Afghanistan who struggles to get an education in America. In her words, the book “was important, but not a priority. As I was writing, Malala, a 15-year-old Pakistani girl, was shot in the head on the way home from school by the Taliban. My writing hit fast forward, the book became a priority and I completed it in March 2013. I am only one person, but I knew I had to do something to help end the violence against women all over the world.”

Sheila is donating a  portion of her e-book’s sales to the Malala Fund to help educate and end violence toward women. Sheila is on Facebook.

Michael Samerdyke

Michael is the writing group coordinator at our bookstore; if you’ve read Little Bookstore, he’s the one who started the group and has nurtured it these past five years. He writes lovely, strange short stories that range from hearts-ripped-out-of-bodies horror, to ripping through your heart with empathy at his nuanced portrayals of how people interact. His snowmen dance, his cat people long for more than blood. http://www.lulu or Barnes & Noble on-line carry Mike’s e-books, both collections of short stories linked by a framing story.

In Featured Creatures: a Phantasmagoria, space invaders, experiments run amok, rampaging dinosaurs and other horrors parade across the Star-Lite Drive-In’s screen for the greatest summer film fest ever. In The Dream Cabinet of Dr. Kino, the mysterious doc travels from town to town showing visions of mad scientists and monsters, vampires and werewolves, and other horrors in his cabinet.

Enjoy!

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Filed under book reviews, publishing, small town USA, Uncategorized