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Askew Review 15

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(Jacob Brooke Press/Author's Myspace or by Steve Barker. 31 pages. Fiction, short stories. Pages 1-23 are a bunch of intertwining lil’ ditties (well, since this is text and not a song, I suppose these would be called titties), called “Rum Shots,” about life and people that absolutely engages the reader, and though the ending satisfies, you’ll only want more. Up next is Last Day of Summer about a man and his pooch that directs readers down a path not all that expected, but all too familiar. Mojave, a dialog heavy story, closes the fun and will shake up every responsible dad but also have them agreeing with the last sentence, or at least half agreeing.
  Yes, my run through of Rum Shots is rather vague, but Barker’s writing is to the point leaving no room for nonsense, or even spoilers for reviewers. I thoroughly enjoyed Last Day of Summer and Mojave, however, I was totally enthralled with the Rum Shots and each of its characters. I actually read Rum Shots, the titties, while walking to my local pub and finished it standing outside the dump because it was too dark inside to read. Yes, this book came before and held off the pints! God, I must’ve looked like a dork walking down the town’s main drag reading. Rum Shots is a nicely done 5.5” x 7” bend and staple, but the text is pretty small offering plenty to read. Various versions of each “shot” have appeared elsewhere, but you really need to do yourself a favor and check out this collection. – Denis Sheehan



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