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Detailed Book Review
   
   
   
From the Quickening         
From the Quickening
By Thomas Sheehan
ISBN: 978-1-929763-39-9
Price: $17.95
Shipping: $4.00
        
This short fiction collection by master storyteller Thomas Sheehan explores the human condition from soaring heights to depraved depths and everything else in between. If John Donne had not penned his line "any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind", Thomas Sheehan certainly would have.

Sheehan is the author of twelve books. Brief Cases, Short Spans was published in November 2008 by Press 53. Epic Cures, won a 2006 IPPY Award. A Collection of Friends was nominated for the Albrend Memoir Award. He has also been nominated for ten Pushcart Prizes, three Million Writers, a Noted Story of 2007, and received the Georges Simenon Award for Fiction. Sheehan served in Korea in 1951-52.

From the Quickening is also available as an ebook on Amazon.com for the Kindle.

        
Book Review Details:
        
Reviewed Appeared In: Midwest Book Review
Reviewed By: Laurel Johnson
Text Of Review:

Quickening: to make alive; to make sharper; to shine more brightly. As with all his writings, Sheehan’s latest book of 19 short stories features his signature prose that is sharp, shining with life. I can’t explain my reaction, but reading Sheehan’s work often brings a tearful response. It’s the joy of the environments he creates, the life in his characters, the sudden jarring shock of life’s despairs and realities, and the words he uses to entice and enthrall readers.

In “The Emergence of Slow Purple” for example, a widower returns to his home town a hollow shell of what he was once. He’s given up on ever being whole again, until he meets a woman who insists her name is Slow Purple. His reaction to the woman’s essence is strong, immediate, hopeful: “The name, I thought immediately, came with colors attached, a host of them, ablaze in intention, sunlight and moonlight, a bloom in a side yard a whole house lives for, the air filled with a suggestion of simple purple essence, presence of the violet, yet a soft bloom, the coy lavender of it.”

The ending of “Fourth of July Homecoming” is an unexpected surprise and not what the three 12-year-old friends planned. The object of their celebration is the shell of an old mill beside the river: “So Snag and Chris and Charlie B came together on the specially appointed night, the national holiday, and crept up on the backside of the Old Scott’s Mill, closed tight as an angry man’s fist, sitting there beside the old, slow Saugus River. It was a mill as marked as time itself, whose existence seemed to transcend the town and its beginnings. Now and then it became a shell of nacre the way an early bronze moon could make it eerie and distant and out of this world. It was a piece of another time, another dimension, for none of them could begin to imagine the gallons of workers’ sweat that had seeped into the floors of the structure for parts of two centuries.” The ending is typical Sheehan, weaving past and present together in a touching paean to humanity.

Those brief examples from two out of nineteen stories can’t begin to provide a proper review. Through prose that takes on a life of its own, Sheehan creates serenity out of loneliness and crafts triumph from deep sorrow. He builds quirky or greedy or heroic characters from bits of memory and coaxes readers into loving them. These are the gifts of a skilled wordsmith, and Thomas Sheehan is certainly that. Highly recommended.

Date Reviewed: April 2009
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