I first got serious about Joanne’s work on Twitter when I halted my incessant scrolling for answers. I was stopped short by the cover of her poetry book titled Stained Glass– This is the best cover I’ve seen in like forever so Joanne has to tell me who designed it.
I’m not in the poetry mood yet. as I am about to release my own short story collection (whenever the cover design is done), and, I am really into writing the short form right now. So, I checked out everything else by Joanne and bought New Horizons instead. I will read and review Stained Glass in a few weeks though.
A change of scenery. A new direction. A break in the weather.
Who hasn’t hoped for something different at some point in their life?
These sixteen short stories offer insights into how people respond when they encounter experiences and events they have not foreseen, or when they discover new horizons in their lives.
What I liked about New Horizons:
This book was settling and comforting in a way that I was not expecting. She must be a decent poet because her word choice and melody in this short form is astounding. No story is more than a handful of pages, and without counting, I’m sure some of them might be considered flash. One could read this book in under an hour as I did, or a story a day with your morning coffee.
I felt most of her tales were inspiring and left me wanting to know more about the characters, even the secondary. Each focuses on one character facing some kind of new beginning. Yawn all you want now, but there is some real depth here, and a kind of tease into the satisfaction of gossip or living vicariously.
Even small, supporting roles have their place and form here. Check out this excerpt from “Time Will Tell”:
A nurse works at her station on the corner of the small, cool room, making notes: a silent witness of every dreadful moment.
I teach English at an orphanage and work with children who are often in and out of foster homes. The story “Rube” really hit home for me and I believe it to be my favorite. Sorry Joanne, that’s favourite. This is the last line:
Heading for the railway station, Rube’s stride was brash and confident, but the tune he hummed was melancholy.
“The Karma Train” was another good one and it had me thinking for a moment that these were all parables in a way, life lessons for the willing. There is a steady theme of starting over and moving on that is hard to get away from.
Then, I found it. The dark and twisted side of reality shown through and I was in my special, evil place. “Coward” knocked my socks off with its form and economy of words:
They all think I’m a coward. That I couldn’t have done it. That I’d never fight back. But they’re wrong.
“A Most Educational Quiz” was very clever in the telling, I even read it twice, once to my wife out loud.
“Lucy” was another tasty treat as we danced in the dark once again, sin and ambition.
What I didn’t like:
Layout issued are paramount but should be an easy fix for the author. I’m reading on a Kindle Fire HD 8″ . This was so short that I didn’t read it on anything else as I sometimes do at work.
I’ll pay 2.99 because I write everything off like a wild bandit but I’m not sure everyone else would. My mom will after she reads this post. The author would do best by writing more and more and posting this for .99 cents. Kindle Unlimited wouldn’t do much for this title because of length but who am I to know such things?
“Revelation” should be a Letter in Letters Never Meant to be Read. It was more of a rant and didn’t quite have a place after “Lucy”.
It was strange to end with “Late Fall” because there was no suspense or cliff to hang, but that may be the point considering the subject matter. Still, in a house full of tease, I wanted more of that kind.
What this does for my writing:
It is so nice to bask in the real once again and feel the morphing and twisting of human nature. I can’t thank Joanne for all the evil thoughts either, it was the parlor crowd inside my head and their commentary. Sometimes, you have to go home and mix it up a little. Don’t know what I mean, do you? No, you wouldn’t.
When I was reading “Rube” I stumbled on this passage:
He didn’t want to go to the pokey country town school with all the farmers’ kids who couldn’t think of anything better than to grow up and work on the farm with their dads.
Oh the mayhem that occurred in my brain and the evil laugh I am giving off right now. Thank you Joanne for giving me the fuel to douse my barn with. Not really, but let’s just say that I have the perfect story idea that involves a steep body count and a poor farmer’s son. I made a few scribbles in my notepad before reading on and I am happy for the lead.
So I’m pretty much going to read everything by Joanne Van Leerdam but she better tell me where I can get a physical copy of Stained Glass or I will pitch a fit and blame the local banker for the trouble. Her work is soothing, calm, yet it packs a punch that leaves you waiting for another turn at the potter’s wheel.
Joanne van Leerdam’s blog: https://wordynerdbird.com/
All works by Joanna: