Book Review: An Island

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an island

This review was written for and first published by Bookmunch.

An Island tells the story of Samuel, who is seventy years old when the tale opens. For the previous twenty-three years he has tended a lighthouse on a rocky islet, where he cultivates vegetables and keeps chickens. Requested supplies are delivered by boat each fortnight. Other than these brief visits, he lives alone.

Occasional bodies are washed up on his shores, refugees who have perished and who he buries. The authorities have no interest in those whose skin colour and facial features mark them as foreign.

The book is structured across four days that unfold in short segments with many flashbacks. On the first day Samuel finds the body of a man who turns out not to be as dead as he first appears. Although unwelcome, Samuel cannot bring himself to leave the incomer to perish. With some difficulty…

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Moira Lovell reviews FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS POINTLESS AND PERFECT by Stephen Symons in the latest issue of STANZAS

“The thirty-six poems and prose passages that make up Symons’ new collection reveal the tender, sensitive and incisive vision of the writer.”

Stanzas 23 (July 2021)

“Wide-ranging, Symons’ work is both delicate and weighty. Full of subtleties and surprises, it arrests and engages the reader.”

FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS POINTLESS AND PERFECT by STEPHEN SYMONS

Samantha Malunga reviews LET IT FALL WHERE IT WILL by Lester Walbrugh

Follow Samantha on IG: @sammikoalareads

Rating: 5/5 🐨

Each of the stories spoke to me in a different way. Lester is a talented writer with great range. 

I’ll give some responses to my favourite stories from the collection: 

🐨BRILLIANT: 
For Better or Wors: Listen. THIS WAS MY FAVOURITE STORY IN THE WHOLE COLLECTION. You clever, clever story writer Lester. Brilliant. I honestly want to say please can everyone start with this excellent story first before reading any other one in the collection?

🐨HOME TRUTHS: 
Hairs and Graces: a story about the privileging of hair texture, and how falling in and out of love with one’s natural beauty. 

🐨MAGICAL REALISM:
In Skuins Street, Pisces Village, Hawston: a love story with a twist. This was executed beautifully and showed how lovers are linked. 

🐨REFLECTIVE:
The Epic is for Everyone: a story about how the real bad guy never gets caught and how it’s always the small fry that takes the heat in all things organised crime. This story really had me fuming, but it’s such an honest depiction of what happens in real life.

Homeful: It was a story of three homeless people tasked with taking a flash stick from an empty luxury home – but they stayed over for a few days instead of an in and out job. In the process, they look back on their past lives, and how they got to be in this current situation. It explored issues of colourism, relationship building and chosen families. 

The Colours Are Too Bright: this story is about a strained relationship between a mother and son, and how a person relates to their parents once they have left home. It was an incredibly sad story, and so well written, with a gentle blow at the end that you don’t expect at all. I loved this especially because it makes you re-read the story and pick up the hints along the way that you may not have seen initially.

✨Overall this was an excellent collection and I can’t wait to read more of Lester’s work. Thank you to Karavan Press for this reviewer copy and to Lester, for sharing your art with the world.✨

Jennifer Malec interviews Karen Jennings for the JRB

“I do like Samuel, because he is incredibly human. He is an ordinary man. He has made mistakes; terrible ones. But he is a man trying to find a place for himself in the world, just as we all are. No one is all good or all bad. We are all only trying as best we can to make a home for ourselves in which we feel safe and where we feel we belong. But, of course, this is not determined by ourselves alone. The past plays a role in our identity, as do our economic, social, cultural, political circumstances. All of these things have an influence on us, whether we like to admit it or not.”

JRB