Written by Madeline MIller
Review by Jarad Johnson
Ok, right off the bat, we have to establish something: I like reading about witches. In fact, if there are any themes in my literary tastes, this is one. I had a fascination with witches as a child (my theory is that I liked them because I was raised by powerful women) and that interest has merged with my academic career. It’s an interesting crossroads of books, horticulture and witchcraft (I never said I was going to do this the conventional way). Any book about witches is one that I’m probably going to read. I’ve reviewed several for the blog and read many more than that. We recently published a paper that I wrote about witches and the plants that they use (here’s my shameless plug for that because it’s actually very good). So, we have that out of the way. Point being that I’ve read a lot of books about the same topic, and they can become somewhat formulaic. After you can start to feel like you’re reading the same book- cauldrons, magic, broomsticks, burnings- all that can kind of blur together after a while.
Written by Gabino Iglesias
Review by Roy Peak
Coyote Songs is that rare beast of a book. Powerful and moving, scary and horrific in the truest and most honest sense of the words. This "barrio noir" by Gabino Iglesias transcends the horror genre and makes all too real the pain of death, revenge, escape, self-recognition, and triumph. Iglesias gives voice to women and children, the marginalized and the lost, killers and ghosts alike in these linked tales from the Mexican-American border during the dark time of the Trump administration.
A few years ago, I reviewed The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, which you can read here. I ended up reading it for class this semester, and my gardening senses started tingling when I read about all the plants in the book. I decided to write a paper about the herbs that the witches/healers used in the book, and horticulture's relation historically to witchcraft.
Witches and witchcraft permeate our culture. Every Halloween, without fail, congeries of witch hats flood the streets. There seems to be a cultural fascination with them, especially in recent years. However, witchcraft as a scholarly expedition is not new. Countless articles, journals and books have been written about them. The topics of incubi and succubi, demons, turning into animals, the devil and midnight joy rides on various cleaning apparatus are nearly to the point of being overdone. Well, maybe there’s room for more stories about traveling on appliances as technology advances. Who’s up for some stories about witches riding roombas?
The Whisper Man
Written by Alex North
Review by Jarad Johnson
Fall seems to have come somewhat unexpectedly. One day, I’m wearing sandals and the next I’m bundled up to my eyeballs in a coat and scarf. My immune system loves that. Sigh. But what I really love is a creepy book, and with the onset of fall, that’s what I’ve been reading. The Whisper Man is a book that I’ve heard about for a month or so now, and now is the perfect time to read it. The plot features a famous writer whose wife has just died, and the book deals with how he and his son try to cope with that loss. There’s also serial killers and ghosts, because why wouldn’t there be? No creepy book worth its salt is going to not have at least one of those things and why not double your fun? This is a book that I would call a “guilty pleasure.” It’s fun reading, and a good story, and a very nice break from all the assigned reading I’ve been given
Your old Uncle Morty is old and tired and dead, though not without the empathy that remains in the empty brain and abstract heart of anyone who has ever worn a suit of flesh. His previous embodiments leave him still puzzling as to why the living seem to value the miracle of being human so very little. Even when they can be led to believe that they themselves might have some intrinsic value they seem always unlikely to give that benefit of the doubt to others. I will give you a few scraps of reasonable advice that I myself found when I walked among the living. It was expressed by two of the best men I have ever known, Kilgore Trout and George MacDonald.
Book Launch:Chapter One
Pre-Ordering at Poetic Justice Books
Some of you have been following this site for a while and you have read a few of the Whistlestop stories. But there are more. The entire collection is available now!
Order with all haste at Poetic Justice Books and Art.
Here's a random excerpt to get you started...
You can also purchase at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Father Dingle, Some Mice, and the Portal to Hell -
Maybe it started with the mice. Maybe the exodus of mice was the first sign that there was something amiss in the church basement. The choir room had been plagued by mice for as long as Father Dingle had been there. Alan Cunningham, the choir director, had been belly aching about adequate storage for music since he’d been there. Father Dingle remembered Alan had nearly been in tears at a staff meeting after finding a mouse nest made with scraps of the Hallelujah Chorus. Alan found this situation neither economically nor spiritually tolerable. But the following year, early in the spring, church mice began moving out of the basement in droves. Father Dingle arrived at church one morning to find several families of mice scurrying up the basement stairs, down the hall towards the front doors. More mice appeared each morning, waiting to dash out as soon as the heavy wooden doors were opened.
How Julie Steals Garden Ideas from Her Neighbors…And You Can Too!
by Julie Carpenter
I moved into a new house in April. I have done a few things around the yard. I’ve dug up some flowering peaches that were, sadly, in the wrong place and planted a few low-growing radicans gardenias instead, underplanted with June bearing and ever bearing strawberries. I also threw some seeds in the ground, cleaned out some beds, removed some awkward brick circles filled with irises that won’t bloom due to lack of sun and being buried too deep, and pruned dead branches.
I know that a lot of people move in somewhere and immediately have big garden ideas. I’m not those people. I need time to see how I feel about the garden and how it feels about me. I like to take the time to see if it offers me any gifts. I wait for bulbs and perennials to show themselves, for shrubs I don’t recognize to bloom. My new place might have garden ideas of its own. I don’t make garden decisions quickly. I also need time to steal garden ideas from my neighbors, a practice I highly recommend.
Uncle Morty’s Halloween Journey
By Mortimer R. Wolcott
This week the Netherworld is preparing to celebrate the day when the barriers break down and the disembodied, the undead, the restful and the wakeful, can cross back again to see the world of the living. The embodied call it “Halloween.” Of course, your Uncle Morty crosses back the other way to visit his gardens, and his shadow home. Alas, I have been unable to complete the décor due to my present assignment among the flesh-covered. No more of that right now, the crimes for which I suffer my penance will not be particularly comprehensible to my embodied friends. But for me, Halloween is a one-day vacation from the vacuous world of the living. The boundary is already becoming hazy and I can see the old homestead now, tall and thin, multi-gabled, with its diamond windows and diaphanous draperies drifting gently in the moonlight, windows open to the frosts of autumn no doubt, just as I left them last year. The old house awaits its occupant and longs for the one night the blue flame will be lit in the fireplace.
Friend of the Chickens, Jeff Weddle, hangs out with poet Dominic Albanese at the intersection of life and art.
Dominic Albanese: The Real Deal
Interview by Jeff Weddle
You can call Dominic Albanese a lot of things, and some of them he’ll answer to. Things like ex-con, ex-soldier, ex-fighter are fair game. These days, you can mostly call him a poet, and a prolific one. His distinctive and brutally honest work deserves serious attention from anyone who prefers poems with the true rhythms of life to the polished vapor of workshopped verse.
He’s traveled the world and known some of the greats. As a kid in the 1950s, he hung around NBC Studios in New York, where his father worked as the nighttime building supervisor for the famed Rockefeller Center. Albanese was friendly there with celebrities of the day. Dorothy Kilgallen and Arline Francis were always nice to him, and Rosemary Clooney watched out to make sure he got a big plate of lasagna on nights his Aunt Celia brought it to the studio. Later in life, he became friends with Ted Berrigan and Robert Crumb, and once met Charles Bukowski, whom he loathed.