The Broken Swan’s Neck. David J. Kelly. 2013. Peloria Press.
Boy meets girl under nearly ideal circumstances. The catch in this Southern love tale is a remarkable haunting. What is remarkable is the strength and humanity of the main ghost, a grief stricken architect who is literally channeled by our architect protagonist. The ghost, teasingly revealed in ever more fully realized form, is human enough to be convincing in the fiction, and surprising enough to remain slightly spooky. This ghost story has some of the fine character analysis you would expect in a Henry James story, but also injects you into a strongly practical and contemporary world that captures your empathy. The close identification serves to make the truly convincing ghost story all the more powerful in raising your hackles. Before we meet the dead architect, we see his ill fated wife appear to the new owner of a historical Southern residence. Miller, who has purchased the house not least in order to come to terms with his own architectural vision, is joined effortlessly and smoothly by Alicia, whose appearance in his life is nearly as implausible as the ghosts that start appearing to both of them. Miller and Alicia use their shared visions to build a relationship, while solving the problem of the ghosts.
The history and motivations of the ghosts serve as a perfect foil both to the real life romance and to the crisis in vision Miller experiences with his work. The male ghost makes physical alterations in his drawings and forces him to be braver in his projections of style. The female ghost serves as the catalyst and eventually the emotional vortex that threatens the new relationship. Even a hard headed cynic who thinks the ghosts are in the characters’ heads will appreciate the wonderful weavings of risk and reward that face Miller and Alicia. In the disbeliever’s interpretation, Miller works out his creative angst with a Doppelganger architect whose taste in style reflects and surpasses his own. Alicia comes to terms with her classic Southern femininity by seeing it projected into the past doomed romance. The story falls pat, but what of the ghosts? The resolution is rich and nuanced.
The Broken Swan’s Neck presents a strongly believable contemporary setting. Southern cities are really just big towns, and the old neighborhoods are enclaves of that town atmosphere. This book puts you there, then melds old and new into a seamless story of both. The numerous accurate and dryly witty local references are a delicious treat for any old Raleighites still out there. The lasting impression of the book is the genuine plausibility of the slowly revealed ghostly presences, and Miller’s quiet conversion from doubter to believer. This reader found himself growing to the idea of ghosts as Miller does. Certainly they work very well in this story. And in this day and age of ghoulish media excess, these ghosts aren’t creepy at all – just sad. Maybe that’s the way they really are.
David J. Kelly is a Raleigh writer and publisher. The Broken Swan’s Neck is available at Peloria Press.
The Little Heel. Lee Moore. illustrated by David Larson. 2004. $5.00 order
The Little Heel Lee Moore, Illustrated by David Larson
This quaint and quirky tale is for divergent-thinking children of all ages. Originally published as a serial in FARCE, the cultural newsletter of The Paper Plant bookstore, this chapbook presents the entire story with the hitherto unpublished conclusion. Five illustrations by David Larson illuminate the Little Heel’s memorable misadventures.
ISBN 0-929170-16-4. $5.00
Translations from the Unconscious. Clyde Smith. 1985. Winner of the 1987 Southern Books Competition special award for alternative publishing. $5.00 order from Amazon
Translations From the Unconscious Clyde F. Smith
32 pp. chapbook with handlaid letterpress cover
This title won the Southern Book Awards prize for alternative publishing in 1987. Clyde F. Smith is a Raleigh native who studied dance at UNC-G and received a doctorate in Cultural Studies in Education from Ohio State University.
ISBN 0-929170-10-5. $5.00
Non-Fiction Poems. Bob Rogers. 1986.
By The Blood. Ralph Dunn. 1986
DOUBLE CHAPBOOK _ TWO FOR ONE COMBINED – 40 total pp. with hand-laid letterpress cover. $8.00 order
Non-Fiction PoemsBob Rogers & By The Blood Ralph Dunn
40 pp. chapbook duet with handlaid letterpress cover
Bob Rogers operates a word processing company in Raleigh while continuing the jazz and radio work he has pursued for over twenty five years. Ralph Dunn enjoyed great notoriety as the Taxicab Poet of Raleigh until his passing in summer of 2001.
ISBN 0-929170-07-5. $8.00
We Humbly Declare a Debt of Gratitude Owed to the Following. Ralph Dunn. Illustrated by the author. 1998. 12 pp chapbook with hand-laid letterpress cover. $5.00 order
We Humbly Declare a Debt of Gratitude Owed to the FollowingRalph Dunn
This twelve page chapbook with a letterpressed hand-laid paper cover contains an epic urban poem which moves in a descriptive and humorous way through life on the street. Mr. Dunn, who enjoyed great notoriety as Raleigh’s Taxicab Poet, takes a hard look at himself and the decidedly various people he meets, merging dramatic monologue, rant, and nostalgia into a multi-part hymn to the city. Three illustrations by the author are included.
ISBN 0-929170-13-X $5.00
Hooker Van Dusen. John Dancy-Jones. Illustrated by David Larson. 1985. 40 pp perfect bound chapbook. $5.00 order
Seeking Shelter. Clyde Smith. Clear Words. 1989. $5.00 order
Seeking Shelter Clyde Smith
Poetry chapbook $5.00
Political scatology meets personal angst. Buckle up for a ride with Clyde!
1989. Clear Words.
23 Hours. Show publication for retrospective of independent art and alternative music in Raleigh. Editors Lee Moore, Nicole Welch, Karen Kletter. Bickett Gallery 2003.
23Hours Magazine. Bickett Gallery 2003. $5.00 order
A sample of this piece can be had with my own article therein, found here.
Joel Haas is a Raleigh native, the son of novelist Ben Haas, and the godfather of pre-Internet, heck, pre-computer Dungeons & Dragons in this town. He is an amazing sculptor, creating fantasial creatures out of repurposed metal. Poppy Bear is a quaint and peculiar children’s tale with wonderful illustrations by Walter Stanford
Poppy Bear. Joel Haas. Metal Man Publishing. 2009 $10.00 order
Everybody’s favorite Raleigh artist in the eighties was David Larson. He has illustrated innumerable band posters, zine covers and most of the Paper Plant titles. His slightly spooky expressionistic pastel portraits grace many a wall in the cool homes of this town. The calendar offers a taste of his black and white work, with many tiny Larson portraits on the famous birthdates charted by calendar editor John Dancy-Jones. The twelve main images were created in Sharpie marker on square wooden boards from David’s employment at the Habitat for Humanity Re-store.
David Larsons’s Calendar for 2000. 1999. $12.00 order