Dog, Run, Moon Stories by: Callan Wink
***** Five out of Five Stars
Review by: Mark Palm
I guess that it’s inevitable; if you write a good, scary book you’re the “next” Stephen King; a wonderful fantasy and you’re the new Tolkien or the heir to Rowling. It’s meant as a compliment, and I bet that most writers surely wouldn’t mind sharing in the success of the authors to whom they are compared, but at times it must be trying, to create something fresh and new and be seen as the latest iteration of what has gone before. Still, when faced with a new writer I feel that even if you are placing a burden upon them, it’s really the only way to give readers some frame of reference so they can get an informed idea of what a certain work is like, rather than just gushing,”read this, it’s great!”
All of this leads me to Dog Run Moon: Stories, a collection of short stories by Callan Wink. I was a little more than halfway through this collection when I knew that I was reading the works of a writer who could stand shoulder to shoulder with folks like Annie Proulx and Thomas McGuane, and believe me, it’s a tough pair of writers to match up against, but this book is just that good. Since the stories are set in the American West, and take place beneath their unending skies, the analogy fits.
The opening eponymous tale is about Sid, a guy who either steals or liberates a chained dog and finds himself running, perhaps for his life, naked through the countryside at night. It’s funny, scary, surreal, and full of heart and grace. And it’s just the start. One More Last Stand is about a man who plays Custer in the annual re-enactment of The Battle of Little Bighorn, and has a passionate once-a-year affair with the Native woman who slays him on the battlefield. The odd relationship is poignant and heart-breaking with moments of humor. Runoff is a May-December romance between a young slacker studying to be EMT and an older woman who has been around the block, and the young man’s father, who is drawn into their lives. Sun Dance is about a builder whose solitary life is shattered by a tragic accident, and how a friend’s marriage to a Native American woman may help him to heal. Off The Track is startling tale of a teenager headed to a juvenile detention center, and the effect that it has upon him and his family. The last story, In Hindsight is a tour-de-force, a long story about a lone woman, Lauren, and her relationships with animals as well as people. It tracks her life with the depth and complexity of a novel, and bodes well for Mr. Wink’s abilities to write a novel.
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