Saturday, January 8, 2011

To Begin Again by Jen Knox

I recently had the opportunity to preview a collection of short stories that is due to come out in March (although that schedule could change). This book, by Jen Knox, will be titled To Begin Again and will be published by All Things That Matter Press.

Jen's previous book is Musical Chairs, a memoir about a young woman growing up in a working-class family. The story covers her problems such as panic attacks and her rebellion from her family. She goes through long periods of alcoholism and earns her living as a stripper. It is a brutally honest reflection on her life.

To Begin Again is fiction rather than memoir, although the lines sometimes seem to blur. But Jen's background comes through. The characters can be rough or fragile, but always human. They deal with diverse issues such as physical abuse or a parent with dementia. One story even has a situation where a woman is trying to break up a couple by simultaneously attempting to seduce both the man and the woman. The characters in that relationship have their failings, but also their strengths. Another story gives us the thoughts of a clerk in a convenience store who has to deal with a tedious life, a boss who shows her no respect, and an opportunity to steal some cash. The twists in that plot will surprise the readers as they will in most of the other works.

Many of these stories have appeared previously in literary journals. The only one I read before I picked up this collection is Dandelion Ghosts, which is also my favorite work in her book. Keep your eyes open for the release of To Begin Again. It will be worth the wait.

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