Peter Conners, Emily Ate the Wind (Marick Press, 2008) unfolds as a textured series of 2-3 page soundbursts that populate and interview the far-reaching ghost of America s everytown bar. It s a story of bad luck and unseen brinks, lived by loose circles of friends that bond and unbond as strangely as real people. They teach school, sell real estate, cut lawns, purchase cocaine, and frequent a bar called The Bar. And so their stories tend toward the tragic. But in Conners s hands tragedy is never a means or an end. His project here is more varied and ambitious; each short prose piece seems to speak in its own language, each gives a view of its subject as seen from blindingly close range, and since many of the stories read at first as departures from the main narrative, the expanding implications revealed on a subsequent pass form a wide wholeness that books twice its length rarely achieve. We begin in a state of fading lucidity, in the thoughts of Dan, a The Bar patron lying beaten and bleeding in the establishment s parking lot. We meet the rest of the cast, (a pair of buddies, a grandfather, a set of girlfriends, a toddler, among others,) in quick succession. As stories, the pieces live or die on voice, and for much of the book the rise and fall of action equals the rise and fall of Conners s sentences themselves. There is something hyperstylized and cryptic about our main narrator that contrasts with the reporterly forthrightness in the various departing pieces. Sometimes the contrast seems as important as the content; for most of the novella the story doesn t so much progress as it does grow new arms and legs, and the book s architecture neatly isolates both reader and character from a bigger picture. Texture and movement take over. By the final scenes, a unifying bang seems unlikely. But Conners s ending transforms the story with clarity and force, and we are thrust back to page one with reaffirmed respect for the inevitable. Emily Ate the Wind offers something rare. Its confidence of vision, rooted early in Conners s stance as poet and stylist, earns an acceptant reading. Its precise attention to accent and moment make it a modern period piece of sorts, and despite the fact that its cleverness sometimes feels written in, it has a physical authenticity that realist writers will envy. And it satisfies the story test. These heroes find themselves suddenly and always at a loss. Because they act and are acted upon there is harbor in each for warring forms of guilt, chance, and ignorance. They know very little about each other. They know about as much as we do about crime or wind or what to do. John Colasacco --The Brooklyn Rail
Sparks of brilliant images light up the compressed worlds Peter Conners creates with words. Music is made with whispers and curses, belches and laughter, pronouncements and asides and sly retorts. Startling lists transform into unsettling truths. The performances in Emily Ate the Wind are dazzling. Joanna Scott --Marick Press Website
The crisscrossing sketches, stories, chronicles, and dialogues of Emily Ate the Wind definitively capture the shimmers and smashups of life in its darkening seasons. Peter Conners has written a wise-hearted, courageously compact book of quiet, vital exactnesses. Gary Lutz --Marick Press Website
About the Author
Peter Conners was born September 11, 1970, in a small town called America. His published books include the prose poetry collection OF WHISKEY AND WINTER and the novella EMILY ATE THE WIND. His memoir, Growing Up Dead: The Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead, was published by Da Capo Press in March 2009. He is also editor of PP/FF: AN ANTHOLOGY which was published by Starcherone Books in April 2006. His writing appears regularly in such journals as Poetry International, Mississippi Review, Brooklyn Rail, Fiction International, Salt Hill, Hotel Amerika, Mid-American Review, The Bitter Oleander, and Beloit Fiction Journal.