Posts Tagged ‘Jessica Maybury’

A Review of “Snowing Fireflies” by Eric Beeny

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Jessica Maybury

First, hands down I would have to say that this is the most attractive collection that I have seen for review so far. The writing on the cover is hand-done, the paper is thick and good to touch, and the double lining makes the collection strangely resilient (having carried it in and out to work for about two weeks now, I should know).

Second, on the first read through, the writing is innocuous, beaming up at the reader in perceived innocence. The sentences are short and snappy, often simplistic in their construction, child-like. It’s the images that hit hard out of this undemanding groundwork. They punctuate the text like stark trees in snow:

Each morning, he went outside and carefully raised the umbrellas in her garden. They bloomed like flowers, big dark gray flowers, their hooked handles like roots dug in the soil.

On the second read through, I began to snatch at deeper meanings and plays on rhythm and connotations. The third reading confirmed that the collection is eminently quotable: “Her absence had grown fond of him”, “We ran outside in our pajamas and lay down in the glowing field, more of them falling, covering us”, “By sundown his needs were poisonous flowers the troop couldn’t identify without a survival manual”.

I liked this collection because of how easily it was assimilated into my own life experience. There are some things, however. Housekeeping notes. Well. Basically only one comment: the word ‘big’ is way overused. ‘Smiling big’, ‘giggled big’, ‘hugged him big.” It’s the only grating note in the piece.

I read somewhere about how reflections catch the world in microcosm. Beeny’s worlds are small and carefully formed, easy to ride along in your mind as you continue your way through life, dipping back into the stories again and again whenever the need should arise. A surprising, precious collection.

Official Eric Beeny Web Site
Official Folded Word Web Site

A Review of “dislocate No. 6: The Contaminated Issue” by Colleen Coyne, Editor-in-Chief

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Jessica Maybury

Reading the new issue of dislocate is not unlike diving into the sea. You stand at the edge, momentarily put off, unwilling to dive…and then you jump in, and it’s wonderful.

What was making me unwilling to read was that when I was flipping through the issue, much of the writing seemed to be of that technical/academic/nonsense style that always seems to just go right over my head. I find it off-putting, pretentious and, frankly, boring. The book lay on my coffee table for a few days, emanating malevolent vibes.

When I sat down for a proper reading, it was with a depressed distaste. This was quickly overturned by reading the editor’s note, wherein there is a description of what ‘contaminated’ means to them: “it is a blending that produces something new.” In this multicultural, increasingly connected world, this is something that is both important and needed.

Technical etc., entries aside, there are astonishing stories, poetry and artwork collected in this issue. The photographic work, taken by Justine Beth Gartner, is displayed in glossy coloured plates and reveals a tight, claustrophobic world of edges and corners, of abandoned places.

The collection speaks up for the contemporary story, breaking boundaries in Modernist fashion, redefining the benchmark for what is ‘acceptable’ or ‘good’ fiction–if any aesthetic viewpoint can be held as relevant nowadays–in ways that made me panic. I doubt that anything I could have written would have been included in this. It is a wake-up call for writers everywhere.

dislocate No. 6 features writers such as Jenny Boully, Greg Bachar, and Curtis Dawkins. The surreal and often complicatedly pictorial metaphors are double-edged and unforgiving; the reader finds that they stay with them long after the volume has been set away.

I have to say that I liked Lindsey Drager’s “Photographs I Did Not Take” the most. Her style is minimalist, pared back and rife with striking images: “If zero is empty, a gaping defined by frame, then so is your mouth,” and “You syndrome of affection, breaking my smiles clean open, smiles cracking over my face,” are but two examples.

More quotes abound, from Jenny Boully: “I have seen the imprint of your little teeth all about the dawn,” from Greg Bachar: “…wasp is a difficult dish to enjoy,” and from Lucas Church:

The weight of something gives a sort of authority, a rifle feels heavy and that’s part of the power, a wrench, a crowbar, a shovel, they’re like badges.

dislocate No. 6 is not easy reading. I was left feeling a little overwhelmed by it, and slightly humbled. Don’t be put off by the pretention of some of the pieces–here there is much that is good.

Official dislocate Web Site

A Review of “Clinical, Brutal… An Anthology of Writing with Guts” by Christopher Nosnibor, Editor

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Jessica Maybury

Clinical, Brutal… embodies the manifesto of Clinicality Press: “…the concept of ‘clinical brutality,’ i.e. those everyday acts of violence recounted crisply, factually and using technical rather than literary flourishes.” This is certainly not a ‘literary’ collection, although some of the better stories do contain elements of literary insight.

The collection, edited by Christopher Nosnibor, makes me think of that moment when you flip a coin and it hangs in the air, spinning, its landing side unknown. The reader is unsure as to whether each story is going to be good or not so good–they might as well be flipping a coin to decide. The only thing to do is to plunge in, sliding effortlessly through the smears of blood and juicy ropes of gore to the heart of the story. Sometimes your efforts will be rewarded, and sometimes not. Work by Pablo Vision, Díre McCain, A. D. Hitchin and S. F. Grimm are almost certainly going to reward the reader. The others, not so much.

It’s not that the stories themselves are bad. They’re not. It’s two things, really:

1. Spelling mistakes. I cannot abide them, and there is no excuse for them.
2. Peppered between the better stories, written by the people listed above, are stories that smack of the juvenile. I don’t know if this was the intention of the editor to include works by younger authors or if it was just including badly written stories. This is not to say that younger authors write badly–it’s more that the stories in Clinical, Brutal… are not honed to within an inch of their life.

It could be that I am extremely bourgeois and only like ‘literary’ fiction. I do, however, appreciate gratuitous gore, junkies, sadistic sex and death by machine gun…and in that department this collection never let me down.

If you’re looking for something sharp, something shocking, or for things that go bump in the night, read this.

Official Christopher Nosnibor Web Site
Official Clinicality Press Web Site

Our New Book Reviewers

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

We at decomP HQ are glad to bring on Spencer Dew and Jessica Maybury as our Staff Book Reviewers.

Staff Book Reviewer Spencer Dew is the author of the short story collection Songs of Insurgency (Vagabond Press, 2008) and the forthcoming critical study Learning for Revolution: The Work of Kathy Acker (San Diego State University Press, 2010). An instructor at Loyola University, Chicago, Dew also reviews books for Rain Taxi Review of Books and art for Newcity Chicago. His Web site is

Staff Book Reviewer Jessica Maybury is a recent graduate of the MA in Writing programme from NUI, Galway, Ireland. Her work has appeared in Nth WordWord Riot and Prick of the Spindle, among other places. Her Web site is

Remember, our review queue is here, and our guidelines for sending books for possible review are here. And yes, it pained us to break the alliteration of Jason, Jason, Jared, Jac, and Jessica, but we thought Spencer’s reviews were too good to resist.

Thanks again to everyone who applied. And keep your eyes open, because there’s always a chance we’ll bring more reviewers on in the future.