Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.


But I Digretch
Love is a wavy lullaby sung through broken stained glass; Love is the sum of all our tries, the futures of hopes bypassed; Love is what catches up to us when the moment went too fast; Love is a sunrise dewdrop on a lonely blade of grass... The anaphora of this stanza (from one of the author’s surrealist, transcendental love poems) emphasizes what remains in the wake of life’s brutal inevitability of loss; it reflects the indestructible force -- of love -- that redeems after life plays spin the bottle and administers its kiss of death on everyone and everything. Love is, love is, love is, love is, and never is not… Enthralled by the glimmer that breathes under fresh ashes of burnt conversation; uncontainably anxious to hang my sighs on the lines of your imagination… Another line from the author’s poetry capturing the essence shibori-dyeing this collection of short stories: It may be invisible but there is an exuberant cord of life and love on which meaning and beauty hang, like bikinis and swimtrunks rinsed of seasalt when the sun goes down… the sun, a Nilla wafer dunked in the milky horizon line. With figurative, tactile prose, toy train town, allegorical ruminations, Dadaesque, satirical spelunks into the human psyche, and twisted fairy tale plunges into chiaroscuro edges where obsession shadows longing, the author is on intimate terms with the struggle to decode joy, to craft an ideal of beauty, from the inexorability of impermanence.
As its title promises, the stories in Turner’s intriguing debut are indeed playful. They are packed with playful language, occasionally address the reader directly, and offer an eclectic mix of protagonists (a spelling bee participant, a wolf, an S&M Dom, a Starbucks barista). But don’t mistake quirkiness for shallowness: Turner’s stories probe the peaks and valleys of the human experience, offering fascinating insights about love and life through the lens of psychology.

The collection delves into some dark themes, like abuse, suicidal ideation, and drug addiction. In “Aeternum,” an opiate-addicted narrator fresh off a bender lies on her girlfriend’s front stoop, covered in vomit, seeing herself through her girlfriend’s eyes, while “The Scissors” combines passages from academic research on teen addiction with the story of a teenage addict and the tragic consequences of his choices. Turner doesn’t shy away from gore, occasionally delivering shockingly violent conclusions. However, the collection achieves thematic balance through stories that effortlessly capture the giddy alchemy of romantic love and attraction, particularly in the “Dramatic Effect” series, which sweetly charts the development of a couple from a chance meeting to a committed, accepting—and quirky—partnership.

Regardless of their subject matter, Turner’s inventive use of language infuses all of her stories. Keeping up with her lively prose, packed with lengthy asides (brackets are often nested within parentheses) and refreshingly offbeat figures of speech, has rich rewards for readers on the wavelength of the “digretch”ions: Turner refers to coffee as “wonderbrew” and strings of Christmas lights as “Jolly Rancher luminescence.” But while Turner’s style is unconventional and occasionally dense, it reliably reveals her diverse characters’ inner worlds, whether they are a child at the beach or a lovestruck commuter. Some elements may be proudly eccentric, but readers will be surprised by how easy it is to connect with its characters as they attempt to know themselves and face their challenges.

Takeaway: Playful, sometimes jolting fictions of the highs and lows of the human mind.

Comparable Titles: Karen Russell, Carmen Maria Machado

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-