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WesternSFA


Stardust
Santa Barbara Literary Journal, Vol. 4
Siver Webb, et al, editors.
Borda Books, PB $12.99, 221pp
Published: October 2019

This is a thematic anthology, and the range of ideas and interpretations associated with stardust is truly breath-taking. Here is a partial sampling of the 14 stories:

Nate Streeper offers ""A Bag of Stardust, or David Bowie Explains" — and yes, the story is a good as the title.

Max Talley interviews T. C Boyle, author of The Terranauts, Without a Hero, Outside Looking In, etc., and they discuss the music that inspires the writing, the experience of writing without relying on one’s customary props, literary influences and the essential need to outgrow our influences, and what a book jacket photo conveys. I think the core reason why Boyle has had so many best sellers is summed up in what he tells Max (on page 31): “I explore my material without prejudice. That is, I have no agenda in writing stories and novels other than to discover a narrative path, a theme, a meaning.” 

"Wallpaper", by Jesse Kernel, is an eerie tale of modern horror, an uncanny, male perspective companion piece to the classic short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: "The Yellow Wallpaper”.

Zane Andrea contributes the whimsical, punnish "Sodden and Angora", about how reality and art are more closely knit than most of us realize.

"Helen's Promise", by Nicholas Deitch, is a profoundly moving story of family, loss, and courage.

At the heart of “The Soul of Beauty”, by Stephen T. Vessels, is the notion “we are made of star stuff” and how that is true of all existing matter.  Even mundane dust can be a reminder of this truth. But what if matter, or souls for that matter, get homesick for their origins?

Isabela Biller is just one of the artists whose images grace these pages. Her "Temperance", and Yuliya Lennon's "Hope", and "The Great Comfort" by Luigi Crisa are just three of my favorite illustrations, and all of them are striking.

Of the 28 poems and lyrics included, I was riveted by "Starfish" and "Black Holes", both by Risa Denenberg. "Two Step" by Cate Graves, and "Nervous Hesitation" by Dennis Russell, are included in a thematic subset devoted to The Dance, and I liked how playful and appreciative they were.

Borda Books puts out fantastically good publications. The quality of the paper, the cover design, the editing, the content matter — all first rate. Any writer or artist who gets included in one of these anthologies is fortunate.   - Chris Wozney

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