Best of Boston Literary Magazine Volume II
Edited by Robin Stratton
"The Best of Boston Literary Magazine includes many fine writers whose work I am familiar with, along with many fine ones introduced to me through this anthology. It’s a collection that is to be sipped and savored rather than devoured. Read these poems and stories; come back to them... enter a conversation with them, leave smudges and annotations. Treat them like intimates, and I guarantee they will never collect dust."
~ Doug Holder, Ibbetson Street Press
The Journey to Zembeylia
by Thomas R. Bransten
“Thomas R. Bransten has conjured up a wickedly delightful Who dunnit? murder-mystery set in the fictional African country of Zembeylia. There are a multitude of suspects who also just happen to be professional travel agents visiting on a tour. Oh—and a government coup thrown in for good measure. Weaving a rich tapestry of eccentric characters, exotic locale, and downright slaphappy action, The Journey to Zembeylia is one you'll not want to put down.”
~ Phillip E. Temples, Machine Feelings and Other Stories
I Am Lilith
Dancer on the Wind
by Keith Tornheim
“Keith is the poet who wrote an entire book of poetry in response to one conversation about Lilith. His poetry became the narrative base for my solo work, which has now been performed in Boston, NYC, Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), São Paulo, Auroville (India) and is on its way to Cotonou (Benin) for the MAIDA Festival in September. Keith channeled the feminine energy and perspective of this creature/woman/creatrix who has seated herself so deeply in my soul.”
~ Wendy Jehlen, choreographer, Lilith
by Steve Klepetar
“Steve Klepetar's collection reads like the discovery of old family photos in an attic; the memories real, the time period simmering just a moment later. A brilliant collection."
~ Timothy Gager, The Thursday Appointments of Bill Sloan
Drains and Other Depressions
by Jim Gustafson
“With courage and deftness, Gustafson’s muse nobly refuses the tendered lies so often associated with time and aging. These songs of experience remind us that “each moment/is a different stream/never the current.” Quietly outraged gifts, these are. Gifts, indeed."
~ Donald Morrill, Awaiting Your Impossibilities
by Robert Scotellaro
“With grit and pathos, and at times sparked with humor, these intricate 100-word stories in Bad Motel travel far and daringly beyond their very short borders."
~ Paul Beckman, Author of Peek
by John Sindell
“Family Happiness proves once again that Jon Sindell can craft entire universes out of thin air. This time, Sindell aims his lens at the American family, as he explores the knotty relationships within. With one ear to the streets and the other listening for a heartbeat in the spaces between parent and child, husband and wife, this collection of American domestics is as heartbreaking as it is witty. The next time someone suggests the short story is a dying form, give them Family Happiness to read. A revival awaits.”
~ Christopher Bundy, Baby, You’re a Rich Man
The Uncanny Valley
by Jennifer Martelli
“Jennifer Martelli’s first full-length collection, The Uncanny Valley, is a soulful collection that disrupts the head and the heart. Powerful as a thunderclap, these poems have grit, an undeniable doggedness in their examination of family, religion, gender, sex, and place. Her poems are unflinching in their exploration of boundaries: dark to light and the all-encompassing gray. With sly wit and sharp language, this is where Martelli’s poems live. We must listen to this brave, new voice.”
~ January Gill O’Neil, Underlife and Misery Islands
The Best of Boston Literary Magazine
Edited by Robin Stratton
Grab a cup of your favorite beverage, turn off all the lights save the one over your reading nook, and curl up with Volume One. You deserve an evening of enchantment.
~ Richard Fox, Time Bomb and wandering in puzzle boxes
Finding the Wow
“If you’ve ever stuffed your dreams in a closet, read Finding the Wow: How Dreams Take Flight at Midlife. You will be inspired by this amazing story of how a determined mom soars to new heights and makes her dreams come true.”
~Randy Peyser, author of Crappy to Happy and The Power of Miracle Thinking
Fat Girl, Skinny
“Anyone who's ever been a few pounds overweight, had self-esteem issues, love troubles, or a bad relationship–in other words every woman I know–will see herself in Amye Archer's story. With sass and wisdom, Archer brings us on her bumpy ride towards a slimmer body and a happier soul. I laughed, I cried, and my jaw dropped from the virtuosity of the writing."
~ Beverly Donofrio, Riding in Cars with Boys
Music Lessons for the Spirit
Janet C. Kessenich
“This book is written from the heart. It will bring music to your ears.”
~ Mary O’Malley, author of What’s In the Way IS the Way and The Gift of Our Compulsions
Wandering in Puzzle Boxes
“Richard Fox’s unique muse wanders through the landscapes of cancer, aging, mourning, Judaism and Boomer memory to produce poems of riveting power and imagination. His cancer poems are unforgettable and his remembrances of times past and friends lost are propelled by a compelling lyrical narrative that seeks to unlock the truth from the puzzle boxes of life and loss within us.
~ Joe Pacheco, author of Sanibel Joe's Songbook and Alligator in the Sky”
Wish You Were Here
“Gifford’s stories bring flame, the desired tension, a feeling that the reader must move on and on and on through the narratives because not doing so would be missing out on his canvas of landscapes and hardships–those beautiful and painful unspoken gaps in our lives.”
~ Palooka Magazine
Age of Wonders
“There is a beautiful sense of acceptance in Lawrence Kessenich’s poems. The acceptance that we will all get hurt, we all will get lost along the way, and that we will continue to have nagging doubts, all of which we learn from. Through his alchemy of words we slow down and hear our own breath. Kessenich’s poems are profoundly meditative, insightful, evocative and accessible. I highly recommend this new and accomplished collection.”
~ Doug Holder, Winner of the Allen Ginsberg Literary Community Contribution Award
Crossing the Lines
“In Crossing the Lines, Tony Press demonstrates a clear eye for the freight we carry. For what guides us, trips us up, informs us beyond what is readily seen. These stories explore nothing less than the shifting layers of our own humanity.”
~ Robert Scotellaro, Measuring the Distance and What We Know So Far
The Alpha Dog Alphabet
"Libby is a star! If you're looking for a charming way to teach the alphabet and happen to love adorable dogs, wit, and originality, look no further! This lovely book is the perfect gift for just about everyone I know!"
~ Firoozeh Dumas, bestselling author of Funny in Farsi and Laughing Without an Accent
Into the Thorns and Honey
“Into the Thorns and Honey is fortified with birds, trees, stars, moonlight, and angels, but in between the wind tossed branches, past the pretty perched birds, beyond the sparking stars in the heavens, we find the dark spaces on the page; it is there, in the shadows of these poems, that we find regret, need, loneliness, sorrow, jealousy, and heartache; it is there that we find what it means to be human.”
~ Jason Fisk, Sadly Beautiful
"This book would be a lovely present for a wife or lover, a bouquet of love poems: love mundane, love transporting, love solemn, love amused, love divine—love that grows beyond the intimate love of two to encompass children and grandchildren. If you love someone, you will see yourself here.”
~ Lawrence Kessenich, Age of Wonders
Millions of Ravenous Creatures
“This is a book unlike any other first book I have read in that it is whole, fully realized. The entire book is lighted by an almost excruciating tenderness towards the word and its inhabitants. It's also tough, and funny, without a peep of sappiness. This is a poet who notices deeply, brilliantly, and with a heart as big as a boulder. Read this book!”
~ Thomas Lux, Child Made of Sand
"Tina Barry is a master of the image that packs it all in: social commentary, pathos, humor, you name it. In her stunning debut, she revels in the glorious absurdity of growing up and getting old. No matter how outrageous Barry’s poems are, no one would ever doubt their truth. There’s an exactness to her images and a candor to her voice that—even as it’s whispering—screams authenticity."
~ Joanna Fuhrman, The Year of Yellow Butterflies
“Brady Peterson enchants us with poems that never die. We return to them again and again, like old friends.”
~ Cleatus Rattan, Texas Poet Laureate and author of A Popular Play
The Rise and Fall of the Yellow House
John Whittier Treat
“Although life is curious and strange things happen, The Rise and Fall of the Yellow House isn’t a fairy tale. John Whittier Treat has written a dark and honest account about the beginning of the AIDS era.”
~ Portland Book Review
“The book is written well and has a tight narrative. There are elements of magical realism and light here, but there is also an inescapable darkness that makes one wonder how anyone made it out of the 20th Century alive.”
~ San Francisco Book Review
John L. Stanizzi
"Spirituality played an important role in my Father's lyrics, life, and vision of hope. We are blessed to see his message translated into such divine poetry alongside scripture."
Lois A. Cuddy
"In this compelling saga, Lois Cuddy vividly recreates an ancient world—where women are prizes, slaves, and means to an heir--and adeptly constructs the paradox of captive and queen. Cuddy’s Penelope is on par with Antigone in her beliefs and allegiances, but Penelope is gifted and cunning; cunning enough to create a counter feminine world with her skilled slave weavers that exemplifies empowerment and compassion. In this way, she is model female heroine starring in a work that is scholarly and well-researched, but fascinating and readable."
~ Laurette Folk, A Portal to Vibrancy
“Brad Rose enhances our understanding of life, death, and everything in-between through manic images that challenge conventional perception. His poetry and short shorts remind us that good literature is not only something to read, but also something to experience. Pink X-Ray provides the kind of reading experience that rattles the brain and refurbishes the heart.”
~ Howie Good, Fugitive Pieces
Paul Beckman's work is always fresh, evocative, and engaging and never more so than in the pages of Peek. I found so much to like about this collection that just a peek was impossible. After reading one story, I found myself immediately turning to the next. Good books are hard to put down, and this is a good book by anyone's measure. I wish I had written so many of these wonderful pieces. But the next best thing to writing a great story, is reading one, or two, or three . . .
Michael C. Keith, Everything is Epic
Once the Storm is Over
Even though she'd had been a mental health care counselor for years, nothing could have prepared Nina Bingham for the suicide of her 15-year old daughter. Grief combined with guilt left Nina shattered; devastated, numb, and incapable of functioning. Once the Storm is Over is her story of forgiveness, grace, and moving on.
I Like Sticks!
Libby, the beloved author of Libby Speaks, is back with a new book about her love of sticks and a delightful lesson for readers of all ages about being yourself! "For my next life I want to come back as Libby!
~ Naomi Minogue, co-host of The Liberal Fix
The Roadkill Collection
The flash stories in this stellar collection, rich in voice and tone, resonate long after they are read. Jon Sindell has put together a book of sharp and original shorts. One that shows how a concise story, when nuanced and well-crafted, can be told in a very big way.
~ Robert Scotellaro, Measuring the Distance
These postcards from the underdogs and outcasts of the world chronicle our universal need for connection, to find a place in the world among others, to love and be loved.
~ Chris Bundy, Baby, You’re a Rich Man
If Things Were Made to Last Forever
Michael C. Keith
"Whether he is telling the story of the stray dogs who were killed to make way for the Sochi Olympics or introducing us to a boy who obsessively creates exact duplicates of each painting in the Van Gogh catalogue, Keith takes us into a world where all the rules have been rewritten and every guarantee has been revoked. If Things Were Made to Last Forever is a macabre smorgasbord of humor and absurdity."
~ Craig Fishbane, On the Proper Role of Desire
Blue or Blue Skies
"Reading Blue or Blue Skies is like curling up with an intimate friend. The fluid writing and emotional insights draw the reader in and suspend the passage of time. A vivid portrait of heartbreak and redemption; nobody depicts relationship dynamics like Robin Stratton."
~ The Lascaux Review
"Bangs takes us back to the days when hairspray and high bangs weren’t just cool—they were required by all the girls tapping out the beat with their feet, flicking ash on the ground at a packed concert hall they broke into. Archer’s writing is full of beautiful contrasts: edgy and soft, angsty and free. Bangs will always have a place on my shelf for its brutal, heartbreaking, yet fun and youthful honesty."
~ Loren Kleinman, The Dark Cave Between my Ribs
Breathing for Clouds
Christopher Reilley deftly draws the reader from sentiment to the heartbreak of human folly. The sweetness of his poems and prose for his daughters, “Open Letter...” and the wistful “Pick Me A Winner” contrast starkly with pieces that detail darker visions, like “The Grand Café” tales and poems of crumbling relationships. The yearning “Danger Days” artfully applies middle age sensibility to reflections of youthful adventures. With wit, wry turn of the rhyme, and keen instinct, Breathing for Clouds invites us to view modern life through Reilley’s lens.
~ Richard Fox, Time Bomb
What's the Story
“…fires up the imagination to a heat that disintegrates writer’s block to ashes.”
~ Laura B. Hayden, Staying Alive: A Love Story
“... a terrific source of inspiration for both the beginning and seasoned scribbler.”
~ Dori Ostermiller, Outside the Ordinary World
The Thursday Appointments of Bill Sloan
"Bill Sloan is the therapist no one wants. Especially since you might say he needs therapy more than his patients."
"... a gangbusters novel, its characters sharply defined against a backdrop both tense and funny. This is a great read." Rusty Barnes, Night Train Magazine.
A Portal to Vibrancy
In her compelling first novel, Laurette Folk maps a young woman’s sexual and artistic coming of age with honesty, humor, and compassion. Folk writes wisely and convincingly about sex and longing, family and faith, loss and anxiety, creating a world which is at once eccentric, familiar, and unforgettable.
~ Kim Aubrey, What We Hold in Our Hands
Sublime and Being
“What a treasure chest of beautiful poems is Sublime and Being by Michael
Levenstein. With a young poet’s heart born of that youthful awe and longing,
he asks, What is left but the meaning of life / when all else disappears? but
sounds much older than his years as he realizes we must Get used to things sure
to change because in acceptance there is wisdom; and in wisdom–freedom. I
eagerly await more from Mr. Levenstein.”
~ Glenn Bowie, Under the Weight of Whispers
The Now Me
Merle P. Martin
This is an honest, well-crafted accounting of a world tipped from its axis, then righted again. Merle P. Martin has written a deft narrative, infused with poetry. One which not only lends insight into life's fractures, but its mending.
~ Robert Scotellaro, Measuring the Distance
"Davis is a fearless explorer, one who knows that the splinters of glass that remain under the skin after an accident are somehow vital to the process of becoming fully alive even as she recognizes the fleeting beauty of existence."
~ Carol Alexander, Bridal Veil Falls
“This deftly crafted novel takes an unflinching and heartbreaking look at the insidious crimes of domestic and sexual violence.”
~ Chloe McFeters, You Look a Lot Like Me
"The Fool takes us to this basic truth, that when we feel most unloved and unlovable, we enter the space of endings and beginnings, the space where we must decide whether or not to believe. This collection of poetry is thus an article of faith, poems that dare us—in unflinching terms—to believe. Jean's poetic emerges in twists of language that hurtle into dangerous places, steep falls and banked curves that bring us back to consider life's vital air and light."
~Afaa Michael Weaver, The Government of Nature
Brilliant and determined graduate student Maya Golan almost has it all: supportive parents, loving husband and beautiful baby girl, and her Ph.D. and post-doctoral position are finally within reach. But destructive forces and betrayal are at work in the lab, and an accusation of murder threatens to ruin everything she's worked for. Set in Omaha, NE, A Degree of Betrayal is a an exciting mystery and thrilling courtroom drama with a twist of science, showcasing the problematic intersections between mentors and students, while highlighting academic friction and research behind the scenes at a major medical school.
"Part mystery, part insider’s view of the research life, A Degree of Betrayal is an entertaining and compelling read."
~ Tom Mahony, Imperfect Solitude and Pacific Offering
"At times solemn, at times laugh-out-loud funny, and manages to come across as serious work that doesn't take itself too seriously."
~ Tom Mahony, An Imperfect Solitude
"An enthralling collection. A perfect bland of wit, humor and truth, beautifully written, the ideal book for anyone who's ever been in love."
~ Carol Lynne Grellas, Object of Desire
On the Proper Role of Desire is a delightful collection of short work that takes every day slice-of-life and infuses it with poignancy and humor. Craig Fishbane’s writing is melodic without affectation. Reading these pieces is like sitting on a bench with a familiar friend, listening to stories and watching the world go by.
~ Wendy Russ, The League for the Suppression of Celery
Stanizzi's visceral collection of poems tantalizes our senses and thoughts with words, but more importantly, he intuits, after decades of teaching, that answers to the problems of life are not easily found. A lyrical, illuminating, remarkable book.
~ Grey Sparrow Journal
Mother Goose Never Said That is a fresh take on a classic collection, as Nina Elo demonstrates her mastery of prose throughout, with stories that reveal the untold truth behind each of these familiar tales. A charming, sassy collection.
~ Ivy Page, Any Other Branch
In His Genes is intelligent, edgy and captivating. Stratton fluidly lights our fire with heartbreak and a confluence of mysteries that mesmerize us throughout, from the rabid fugitive genes that run rampant within us to the rabid human desire for power at the expense of truth.
~ Meg Tuite, Domestic Apparition
Still Here Thinking of You
A Second Chance with Our Mothers
by Vicki Addesso, Susan Hodara, Joan Potter and Lori Toppel
"These memoirs hit close to the bone. They're about misunderstandings, secrets, and sacrifices, but most of all, love."
- Vanessa Williams
"... I found myself hearing the language of villagers, the lowing of buffalo, and the chattering monkeys as war is waged in the distance. Thai Comic Books is Needle examining his own misgivings and good intentions as he explores the hopes and fears of the people he meets."
~ Jonathan K. Rice, Iodine Poetry Journal
Line by line, Splitting the Difference will unhinge you from any delusions about the stability of life. So if you’re brave enough, buy this book and dare to trace “what’s left when / there’s nothing left.”
~ Seth Michelson, Eyes Like Broken Windows
Glenn Bowie’s clear-eyed poetry shines new light on life and light and darkness, time and seasons, and yes, love and truth. At times wistful, “Nothing is unimaginable when you remember how we used to be” and at times unsparing, “Words of wisdom a day late will never get you anywhere,” Bowie writes his heart’s truth.
~ Tony Acarasiddhi Press, San Francisco Zen Poet
"In Brady Peterson’s deeply evocative poems, myth meets memory as the poet revisits key moments in an otherwise ordinary life and sets them in the context of eternity. Such moments are connected by the most fragile of membranes, the thin line that divides past from present, dream from reality, who we once were from whom we’ve become. Each poem moves us, step by step, station by station—and through the spaces in between—along the journey towards joy the searching soul seeks. Between Stations is where life happens. What luck to find a poet brave enough to take us there."
~ Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, Saint Sinatra & Other Poems
“Michael Keith’s characters are often eerily familiar because they reflect parts of ourselves – the parts we wonder and worry about that take us to dangerous places our more rational selves avoid. They and their dilemmas unfold vividly in a short space of time, disturbingly destined to their fates. Keith’s skillful writing is as rare as it is superb. He leaves you sometimes sad, other times relieved, and always amazed.”
~ Kathleen Kelley Reardon, The Secret Handshake and Shadow Campus
"These are authentic and deeply engaging stories, exploring the dark and illuminated forces which collide and coexist in all of us. With Sad Boy, Michael C. Keith has given us a penetrating collection. A deft and clear-eyed amalgam of love and longing.
~ Robert Scotellaro, author of Measuring the Distance and The Night Sings
“Sitting in an East End pub on a bleak November day, you got carried away talking about the wonderful light of Kenya. Here, on a bluff overlooking a thicket, it was sweat, flies, fear, and one minor catastrophe after another. Maybe it had been foolish to come back...”
When Richard Goodwin returns to Kenya after 15 years, he's shocked to see that the peaceful colony he left as a child is gripped by bloody rebellion: the vicious Mau Mau are murdering settlers, burning villages, and slaughtering livestock in their bid to take back the land. Swept into the ruthless fighting as the killings mount, Richard wonders if he has another enemy, too—an insider who somehow knows his unit's location and wants him dead. Is it someone among the decadent, drug-addled settler aristocracy, or one of the two women he's in love with?
When five-year old Christophe Ville de Coutray disappeared in 1970, hundreds of reporters flocked to Paris to cover the story. One reporter became part of the story.
Barricades reporter Lincoln Goldstone is on the run from his angry future ex when he finds himself at the center of the story of the century: the heir to the fabulous Ville de Coutray fortune has been kidnapped. In a race to get the story behind the story, Goldstone unknowingly befriends the kidnapper. Falling in love with fellow reporter Suzanne Carrington further complicates matters, as he struggles to examine his own deepest values about life, death, and justice.
"Haunting and powerful, and at times sadly comical... belongs on every literary mystery lover's bookshelf."
~ Dr. Merle P. Martin, Nomad’s Chant