Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yesteryear Tales: A Review

Last summer, I complained about being spammed by a promotion for a book I’d never heard of. Not long after, the author sent me an ARC of his book. Recently, I finally got around to reading the book and found it quite enjoyable.

LinkThe Yesteryear Tales (ISBN 978-1606530009, High Hill Press, July 2008, 212 pages, $14.95), by David Lee Kirkland, is a collection of Appalachian short stories, many of which use repeating characters and rural/small town locations. A few stories are a bit gritty; others are charming. Many characters are likable and are not without their human flaws. For the most part, the writing is pretty good and demonstrates a definite voice and a strong sense of place.

One of the book’s grittier±and darker—stories, "Jack and Jester," is here. It could serve as a textbook example of how to write an effective short story: showing instead of telling, authentic dialogue, active verbs, no extraneous words, interesting characters, a well-crafted plot. Read it and see what you think.

I found a few minor problems with the book:
  1. Title. “Yesteryear” and “tales” both suggest a children’s book. It certainly isn’t.
  2. Diction: At least twice, the author describes a horse moving with a “fox-trotting pace.” I have a Tennessee walker who fox-trots. She doesn’t pace. A pace is a two-beat lateral gait. A fox-trot is a four-beat gait that tends a bit toward the diagonal. (The trot is a two-beat diagonal gait.) A horse couldn’t simultaneously fox-trot and pace. Most people wouldn’t notice this error. But I did. I think the author meant “fox-trotting gait.”
See? I told you they were minor.

The Yesteryear Tales is a good, set-a-spell down-home read. For more information, check out this interview with the author.
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