5 Star–Book review of “And the Fires We Talked About” at Readers’ Favorite–more shameless self-promotion by the owner of this site.

Reader's Favorite five starAnd 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.

Source: Book review of And the Fires We Talked About – Readers’ Favorite: Book Reviews and Award Contest

“Caught Up in the Air” by James Ross Kelly – True Chili

A DOZEN OR MORE three-hundred-year-old black oaks spread over the top of the south side hill of our farm with a two-acre pasture on top and our house sat on the edge and overlooked a small twenty-acre valley bottom with Reese Creek and across it at the far side and then there was a similar hill of Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir to complete the farms north edge as a cross section of a small valley running from our house south to north.

Source: “Caught Up in the Air” by James Ross Kelly – True Chili

“Caught Up in the Air” by James Ross Kelly – True Chili


 

A DOZEN OR MORE three-hundred-year-old black oaks spread over the top of the south side hill of our farm with a two-acre pasture on top and our house sat on the edge and overlooked a small twenty-acre valley bottom with Reese Creek and across it at the far side and then there was a similar hill of Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir to complete the farms north edge as a cross section of a small valley running from our house south to north.

See original Source: “Caught Up in the Air” by James Ross Kelly – True Chili

And The Fires We Talked About–by James Ross Kelly (shameless self promotion by owner of this site)

1dgpzwwg-front-shortedge-384Kelly’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’s 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 RawArt Review

Source: And The Fires We Talked About

Poem for the Beer Drunk Fishermen Who were Lost @ Sea off the Crescent City pier in the Tidal Wave of 1964– by James Ross Kelly – YouTube

Published by James Ross Kelly

James Ross Kelly lives in Northern California next to the Sacramento River. Mr. Kelly was a long-time resident of Southern Oregon where he grew up. This poem will be published in his new book of poems Black Ice and Fire by Uncollected Press in 2020. Additionally, And the Fires We Talked About published by Uncollected Press in 2020 is Mr. Kelly’s first book of fiction. View all posts by James Ross Kelly Published May 22, 2020

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Easter Sneak Peak–Soon to be published by UnCollected Press: And the Fires We Talked About

And The Fires We Talked About Cover ArtEaster Sunday Afternoon

HE WAS STOOPED OVER AND ABOUT five-foot-five on a freeway entrance on I-5 northbound, with two good-sized paper grocery bags. Bundled up as he was, you could not discern by a scraggly grey-streaked beard; could have easily been fifty or older, but, stocking-capped, it was hard to tell.

“Oh thanks, oh thanks,”He said.

“I need a seven-mile ride!” He said.

Clear blue sky met us both and the twenty-year-old Ford picked up to freeway speed, and he was settling in with his bags at his feet. There were four, quart bottles of Rainer Ale.

“Warming up eh?” He said.

“Well yes, and its Easter,” I say, and I told him I’d just been to church, told him the Pastor preached the Road to Emmaus, and…

“Luke 24!” He said.

“They were walking with Jesus!” He said.

“Didn’t know it was Him!” He said.

I thought of stumbling over some point this Pastor had made, then I stopped. He knew scripture; I listened.

“Didn’t know, until they broke bread with him, Ha!” He said, slapping his knee.

“Got me a bridge up here I like!” He said, almost growling.

“Stays nice and dry, I can have a little fire, and nobody sees the smoke.”  He said.

“I stopped being able to live inside about fifteen years ago,” He said.

“Don’t know why, I can’t live inside. I do pretty good. I worry in the winter that my feet will freeze.”  He said.

“I do pretty good though, see my way around, find places like this bridge,” He said.

“Haven’t been rolled in two years,” He said.

“I can’t live inside.”  He said.

“Wrap my feet with paper on winter nights.” He said.

“I’m afraid in the winter my feet might freeze,” He repeated.

“My feet froze seven years ago, lost one toe.” He said.

“But it’s getting warm now.”  He said.

“I do pretty good.” He said.

When we arrived at the bridge, I got off onto the freeway shoulder with my Ford, and we talked for a while. My heart burned. I remembered I’d just bought a box of oranges. I got out and retrieved a dozen to a plastic bag from the trunk, I’d just done laundry and there were wool socks on top of the laundry basket, I put those in with the oranges and I found a twenty and gave him that too.

“He is risen!” I said.

“He is risen indeed!” He said, then vanished down under a roadbed bridge home.

 

 

 


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And the Fires We Talked About–Copyright © 2020 by James Ross Kelly

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used reproduced in any form by electronic or mechanical means without permission in writing from the author and UnCollected Press except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

The Effects of Grace – Kindle edition by TL Publishing Group LLC, Anthology including a poem by James Ross Kelly no cost for a Kindle edition for a time.

The Effects of Grace – Kindle edition by TL Publishing Group LLC, Alice Saunders. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Source: The Effects of Grace – Kindle edition by TL Publishing Group LLC, Alice Saunders. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.