Monday, January 28, 2019
Book Review: 'True Ash' by Elizabeth J. Colen and Carol Guess
‘You were two different people’
Washington State Co-authors Elizabeth J. Colen and Carol Guess both teach at Western Washington University and both have published highly regarded books of both prose and poetry. The synergy these two artists have found has produced this unique and very satisfying book, TRUE ASH, that blends short stories with moments of poetry in a tapestry of fascinating and significant contemporary issues. The writing is magnetic and successful on every level.
The opening title story sets a mood that is sustained throughout this tasty little book: ‘If trees could talk, you said. If they could tell us what they saw. But if you didn’t want to talk about it, why would a tree? We walked in the arboretum as if nothing had happened. Past Japanese Maples, Witch Hazels, Legumes. Through Pinetum and across the stone footbridge, The math of it, was what you said.’
The synopsis pieces the book together well – ‘Microchips that don't know when to stop, pop culture clones poised to take over the planet, a mysterious burial in a popular park, candy cigarettes wreathed in sugary ash. In these interlocked short stories, Elizabeth J. Colen and Carol Guess conjure characters guided by instinct but misguided by technology, longing for intimacy but propelled by desire. Taken together, these stories detail the spectrum of human loss and describe the rise and fall of a fictitious Seattle company governed by unruly appetites, a world of glass windows where privacy comes with a price.’
Rising to the top of the ranks of the LGBTQIA genre, these artists demonstrate how exceedingly well tales written by two individual can reach heights at times unattainable by single writers. This is a very fine, enthralling, and exceptionally creative book. Highly recommended.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.