SHORT STORIES

The Owl That Carries Us Away

BkMk: Univ. of Missouri-Kansas City. Apr. 2018. 184p. ISBN 9781943491131. pap. $15.95. F
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OrangeReviewStarThat Ramspeck is a prize-winning poet shows in this accomplished collection, winner of the G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for First Fiction: the language is grittily lyrical and each story in the moment. In one piece, the narrator says, "I see that my sons are wild creatures, feral boys in the backyard," and that beneath-the-surface sense of nasty brutishness surfaces throughout. A boy relentlessly pursued by a bullying older brother nearly drowns him, then wishes he had; "his brother will be lying in wait, will never forget this." A young woman is delighted with her new husband yet finds his presence, his very body, intrusive. And in the particularly affecting opening story, a boy who treasures a possum skull, a great sense of comfort to him with his father ill and his life lonely, is devastated when it's destroyed by a would-be friend. Memory matters, too; a man finds his wife's clothes "dangling their remembrance around him," while the father watching his sons is defined by the moment long ago when his brother drowned.
VERDICT Excellent reading for those who value meditative, beautiful storytelling.

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