by Annie Clarkson
East of Here, Close to Water is an unusually small book
with perfect cream cover and eleven delightfully short stories, with
titles like Her
Grandmother’s Harpsichord, Outdoor Furniture Green
and Before the
Power Went Out.
It is a self-published book, a
notion I am usually against, not in principle, but because most
self-published books I have read have been poorly edited, inconsistent
in quality and perhaps not ready for publication. East of Here, Close to Water is
not one of those books. Every word feels perfectly chosen, each story
is beautifully written, I might even say exquisite, and I feel
confident there will be a publisher eager to publish her work within
the next year.
There is an intimacy to these
stories that draws the reader in, makes us witness or party to the
characters’ most difficult or revealing moments. Secrets are shared;
inner thoughts, loves/ hates, anxieties and vulnerabilities. Characters
are introduced with such precise brevity, we might instantly know
"He had an ex-wife, callused
fingers, a dog that he loved, gentle Australian rock on the car
"She laughs with her teeth clamped
shut, tongue on the roof of her mouth. It comes out like a hum, like a
Josephine Rowe has a poet’s eye.
She focuses on small actions such as polishing a wardrobe, a man
drowning an injured bird, a woman receiving a series of empty envelopes
through the mail. These small moments become resonant with meaning,
history, and emotion. We learn everything we need to know about these
characters through their connections with these objects. We are left
with an ache, because these beautiful, sad stories are perhaps critical
moments in these characters lives. They could be our lives.
stay, long after reading them:
"And somewhere out amongst it all
she was still running, her
peroxide-yellow hair flagging out behind her snarled with dirty little
secrets, the memories of men’s fingers."
There is enough said that we know
what we are being shown, but there is
space for our imagination, and we are left with questions that
Perhaps East of Here, Close to Water
might be too short for some
people, the stories too fleeting. It is certainly a shorter collection
than most. But, Josephine Rowe has distilled so much into so few pages.
She has an ability to capture the core emotional truth in a given
moment in such a simple poetic way.
Read a story by Josephine Rowe on Furious Horses.com.
is a poet and short story writer living in Manchester, UK. Her first
chapbook of short prose Winter
Hands was published by Shadow Train Books in 2007.
Publisher: Cherry Fox Press
Rowe lives in Melbourne, where she regularly performs both
spoken word and music. Her poetry and short-fiction have been widely
published in Australia and read on national radio.
with Josephine Rowe
Buy this book (used or
recommended bookseller: Readings.com.au
forget your local booksellers and independent book shops! Visit IndieBound.org to find an independent bookstore near
you in the US
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