Thursday, October 25, 2018

Review of "Elephants" by Leah Brundige reprinted in Somerville Times

To read or re-read it go to their online link
or read it here below...

‘Every Day There Is Something about Elephants’ by Timothy Gager

On October 24, 2018, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times
Here is a review of Somerville writer Timothy Gager’s latest collection of flash fiction: Every Day There Is Something About Elephants (Big Table Publishing)
Review by Leah Brundige
     Timothy Gager’s engaging new collection of flash fiction, Every Day There Is Something about Elephants, shows a novelist’s interest in human interactions and vivid details coupled with a poet’s gifts for compression and figurative language. The book’s 107 stories vary in tone, scope, and length, but none is longer than four pages. Some – such as The Lottery Winner, a tour de force at just a page in a half – deploy and develop an extraordinary number of characters relative to their size, while others navigate the constraints on their length by more poetic means, turning on a single pun (Chiller) or extended metaphor (How penguins break). The reader is carried along by their expert pacing and, in many cases, by their sheer shock value. Gager is a master of the twist ending.

     The subject matter of these short-shorts is often harrowing, and the author is unafraid to write with sympathy, if not approval, of the seedier sides of human nature and society. Abused or addicted, homicidal or lecherous, his characters command our attention as they grope through their flawed lives toward connection or transcendence. Gager is frugal with his imagery, but he knows how to illuminate a character’s plight with a painful, well-chosen detail when the story calls for it: You burned your lips on a crack pipe, without the warning: The glass on this pipe reaches extreme temperatures. Handle with care. You didn’t care. The blisters popped and fused your lips together.
     The gritty realism of that terrible last sentence might seem at first glance to be at odds with another strain that runs through Gager’s work: a domestic surrealism that at times borders on whimsy. The elephant-haunted narrator of the collection’s title story recounts details that at first seem merely absurd (“How did I know an elephant had been in the refrigerator? He left his footprint in the cheesecake”) but become more disquieting as the narrative progresses, until we realize that the “elephants” are manifestations of the character’s mental disturbance. The conclusion brings the elephant metaphor to chilling culmination and unsettles the reader with all that it leaves unsaid. The story recalls Ernest Hemingway’s famous Hills like White Elephants, another piece of short fiction animated by its pachydermal symbolism, though the judicious silences in Gager’s narrative threaten to make Hemingway’s measured withholding of information look like a parlor trick.

     If the familiar concerns of Gager’s fiction – domestic violence, firearms, and drinking among them – recur frequently in these stories, they never feel repetitive. Gager’s imaginative resources are considerable, and imbue each piece with its own freshness of character or circumstance. They are stories that, however grim on the surface, rejoice in their own brevity and technique. This immensely readable book affirms the prolific Gager’s literary gifts, and showcases a kind of short story that seems, by the collection’s end, entirely his own.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

I dissect the poem "Sobriety" in Chris Rice Cooper's Art and Humanity Blog

CHRIS RICE COOPER is a newspaper writer, feature stories writer, poet, fiction writer, photographer, and painter. She has a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice and completed all of her poetry and fiction workshops required for her Master’s in Creative Writing with a focus on poetry. She, her husband Wayne, sons Nicholas and Caleb, cats Nation and Alaska reside in the St. Louis area.

In her blog she has a segment called Backstory of a Poem, in which she and I discuss my poem Sobriety. 

It's pretty cool, to be honest, to talk about a single poem, so check the link and read the words. Chris in her blog has included some photos from my Facebook archives, which is a strange thing to say-Facebook archives.  This one was from my unloading my dinner from the microwave series. I was starving, as documented by the hidden camera. 

Oh, and when she contacted she was kind enough to include this:

Dear Timothy The piece is all set to go. I'll wait to hear from you about the photo and then post. And if the photo doesn't work out that's okay too. I admire you for overcoming alcohol addiction. There are so many good people that fall into that addiction. So I applaud you!
Christal Ann Rice Cooper

Cheers (with coffee or Dr. pepper of course) To you Chris

Here's the poem Chris and I discussed

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Final Dire Lineup. I hate long goodbyes and also long blogs, but I love these people

On Friday October 12, at 7 PM, I will host my final Dire Literary Series. It's at the cafe within The Center for the Arts at the Armory in Somerville. It's also at the Cervena Barva studio in the basement at the Armory if there is an overflow crowd. I'm not sure if I should count these as two events.

So the readers will read twice, once upstairs once downstairs switching at the break. You, the wonderful audience DOES NOT GET TO SEE YOUR FAVORITE AUTHOR TWICE, because that will fuck up the room capacity and someone else will be displaced.

So come early. No open mic and don't be a fucker

Originally at the series I didn't read bios. I gave impressions. Good idea but I did many of these drunk. Bad idea. In the spirit of that (impressions, not being drunk) here are the bios for my final edition of the Dire Literary Series.

UPSTAIRS at 7 PM and downstairs after the break are

 Amy Dresner, author of the memoir, My Fair Junkie,  which chronicles her addictions and recovery from various substances. It was named one of the best memoirs about addiction of all time. Also soon it will be a television series. I did a reading with her in Los Angeles. She is the real deal, and a superstar in the recovery world. This is her debut Dire reading.

 Doug Holder. My partner in the Somerville News Writers Festival, and the boss of everything Ibbetson. Doug published two of my poetry books, but first and foremost he is a wonderful poet. I wouldn't do this event without him!  This is his third Dire reading.

 Elizabeth Graver read from The Honey Thief at one of the early Dire series events, at least fifteen years ago . Her work has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories (1991, 2001); Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards (1994, 1996, 2001); The Pushcart Prize Anthology (2001), and Best American Essays (1998). Her story "The Mourning Door" was awarded the Cohen Prize from Ploughshares Magazine.

Hannah Larrabee is a self-admitted science geek, so being one of 22 artists selected by NASA to see the James Webb Space Telescope, and having her JWST poems were displayed at Goddard Space Center is right up her alley. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Hannah is a two time Dire reader. 

DOWNSTAIRS at 7 PM and upstairs after the break are

 Nadine Darling and I wrote in an on-line group about as long as the Dire Series has existed. She featured twice at the Dire Series, the last time was for the release of her book, She Came From Beyond! We are both pop culture freaks and fans of The Match Game and The Gong Show. The night of her book party we played The Match Game live at the Out of the Blue. You can watch that right HERE It's sort of hilarious.

 Renuka Raghaven is a poet who shares a publisher with me. She is part of Big Table and is the fiction review editor for Cervena Barva Press. He young daughter will steal the show if you allow her to read. This is her first Dire feature.

Rusty Barnes is such a great guy and good friend. Our publishing careers have followed similar paths, but he seems that he always got there before I did. He has had his hand in Night Train, Fried Chicken and Coffee, Live Nude Poems, and Tough. He has written seven books and he has featured at Dire four times.