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Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 04/2020
  • 9781678004286 B08P5H1H2P
  • 194 pages
  • $20.00
Ebook Details
  • 11/2020
  • B08P5H1H2P
  • 151 pages
  • $9.99
And The Fires We Talked About

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Kelly’s stories are tough, real, honest, and always true. Unadorned by gimmick or artifice, the pieces in this collection—all framed between the imagined voices of that most primal couple, Adam and Eve—carry us deep into the heart of a wild American world that in many ways (and most definitely for a lot of younger people) sadly no longer exists. The human settings of these stories—bars, strip clubs, dingy apartments, goldmines, ranches, logging crews, homesteads, highways—are rich with details and textures that linger long after the closing sentences. Beyond those, however, there is always a sense of something even larger and older surrounding the often small, sometimes strange, yet always compelling events his narrators are recounting. Sometimes this larger thing is the natural world—the oceans and forests, the plants and animals—always placing the events into their proper context. At other times, it’s the human interactions themselves that somehow seem to take on this greater, at times even mythic, weight and power. Reading these pieces, we recognize how the hungers and desires, the fears and hopes, the regrets and epiphanies of his people have all somehow entered our cultural DNA, and how—like them--it’s up to each of us to come to terms with all the beauty and terror that comes with being alive. Dave Sims—Editor, The Raw Art Review
Reviews
Reader's Favorite

Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite

And The Fires We Talked About by James Ross Kelly is an anthology of 35 stories of varying lengths. The tales are set mainly in and around the town of Medford, Oregon and the California hills, though some stray much further afield to North Africa and the Red Sea. Many contain pithy local dialect or idioms which bring a flavor of the forests and mountains in the area and the men who work at logging and tree planting in the unforgiving landscape. The stories tell of their lives, the back-breaking work, the dangers, and the recreational visits to clubs and bars. There are strippers and fistfights, and beer flows freely in the bars as the men relax and for a time forget the perils of their chosen field of labor. Some stories tell of military men during the Vietnam conflict and there is one particularly moving tale of a forest fire in the California hills. The author displays an extraordinary depth of knowledge about the nature of the forests and the logging operations, while he also bemoans the disappearance of community and a particular bucolic way of life as farms and holdings are snapped up by rapacious, faceless corporations.

But there are more diverse tales too - tales that will stretch your imagination, such as Standing in the Rain, where he writes about an author who is experiencing a degree of success writing formulaic detective novels, but is assailed by one of his characters who is unhappy about the way the plot has developed. James Ross Kelly also displays an intricate knowledge of the topless bars and strip joints of the seventies and eighties - knowledge which features in several of the tales and perhaps particularly so in No One Here Gets Out Alive. Well-written and covering a variety of themes and subjects, there is something in this collection for most tastes but maybe should be avoided by your maiden aunt.

I enjoyed And The Fires We Talked About; it contains many glimpses into worlds and ways of life that are rapidly disappearing. Written in a forthright, unflinching style, Mr Kelly’s characters live and breathe and rise solidly from the pages. There is a certain amount of sex and violence but I found none of it offensive and felt that it was in keeping with the themes being explored. If I had to pick a favourite story from the collection, I would choose The Fire Itself, a beautifully observed tale of a California forest fire along with a touching look at the natural ecology of the region and one family who lives in it. And The Fires We Talked About is an impressive anthology from the pen of a talented author - I do not hesitate to recommend it.

News
11/02/2020
An engrossing collection of real-feel stories.

Top reviews from the United States

Willie Smith

5.0 out of 5 stars And The Fires We Talked About

Reviewed in the United States on November 2, 2020

Verified Purchase

An engrossing collection of real-feel stories. Kelly's straightforward prose puts the reader right there, in the Southwestern Oregon honkytonk tavern, or in the woods of the same locale, or on a US Army base in Eritrea or in Texas. The time setting for most of these stories is early 1970s through early 1980s, and the time, like the places, comes vividly to life. Each story is a personal narrative of an imagined character, and by the end of the tale the reader knows that character as intimately as she or he knows his or her real and actual best friend. Utterly without sentimentality, melodrama or sappiness, these stories overrun with humanity, the genuine article. I especially enjoyed the logging stories included in this anthology, such as "Both Men Were Heavyweights." Best and most accurate descriptions of high-lead logging since Kesey's SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION. I walked away from my reading of AND THE FIRES WE TALKED ABOUT feeling the fir needles down my back and hearing my caulk boots click down the sidewalk from the crummy to the small-town tavern. Wonderfully raw, honest and yet always gently amusing and witty. Recommend it to anyone interested in good writing in general, and, in particular, in learning firsthand about the folks who made and maintain the logging and mill towns in Southwestern Oregon.

Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 04/2020
  • 9781678004286 B08P5H1H2P
  • 194 pages
  • $20.00
Ebook Details
  • 11/2020
  • B08P5H1H2P
  • 151 pages
  • $9.99

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