Monday, December 01, 2008

The Orange Spotlight

Barry Graham Not a Speck of Light is Showing (Achilles Chapbook Series, Oct. 19th, 2008)

"I'm outside my father's house, looking through the window, he won't let me in." ~ from Parable of the Dead Rolling Snowball

It's always fun to observe children this time of year. They are filled with joy and excitement, anticipation and wonder, and the hope is tangible. Yet, the reality is there are many children who are struggling to enjoy the holiday's much less life in general. In, Not a Speck of Light Showing Barry Graham tells tales of a warped youth experience in a way that most reasonable adults would never imagine inflicting on a child. From finding your mother dead in her cream of wheat to a molesting from your brothers friends at thirteen, Graham pulls images of a life unwanted and turns them into dim flashes of a story that want never meant to be told.

What drew me to pick up this chap and begin to read was its plain cover. A yellow piece of paper with seven words typed in black. "not a speck of light is howing". There was nothing to allude to the contents, and nothing to draw the focus away from the text. Published by Dogzplot through their Achilles Chapbook Series, this collection of flash fiction is a compelling look at youth and misery and the solid streak of hope that just might prevail regardless of the season.

McCarthy Trenching Calamity Drenching (Team Love, Sept. 23rd, 2008)

Maybe it's the time of year, or the fact that I just watched his Christmas special, but Dan McCarthy is the new John Denver. Not that there's anything wrong with that. He is one of those timeless storytellers, and the stories he shares on his latest album Calamity Drenching are filled with broken romance, distruction of cassette tapes and the feeling that these stories were always meant to be told.

Released by Team Love, Calamity Drenching is a heart felt collection of tales. Calamity Drenching collaborators include: Steve Bartolomei (Mal Madrigal), Ben Brodin (Before the Toast and Tea), Stefanie Drootin (The Good Life, She & Him, Bright Eyes), Tim Jensen (The Golden Age), Pearl Lovejoy Boyd (Outlaw con Bandana), Ted Stevens (Cursive, Mayday), Orenda Fink (Azure Ray, Art in Manila) and Phillip "Too-Tall" Shaffart. There is even an accordion solo titled after a line from Carl Sandberg's poem "Happiness."

To an Aesthete Dying Young/Cassette Tape Massacre (mp3)/Christmas Song/The Most Attractive Disguise/Thunderstorm Blues/Roasting Song (mp3)/A Keg of Beer and an Accordion/Scoop Shovel Blues/Mormon Girl Blues (mp3)/Perfect Moonlight/Detritus/Song for the Four Horsemen

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