Book Review of Hoenig’s Garden Variety

A new book review for JASAT.

I just received word from Sean Ferrier-Watson, JASAT Book Review Editor, that the review I wrote of Garden Variety has been accepted for publication in the 2018 edition of JASAT, The Journal of the American Studies Association of Texas. It was a fascinating read about much more than just the history of the tomato!

Hoenig, John. Garden Variety. New York: Columbia UP, 2017. 288 pages. $35.00 paper. ISBN 9780231179089.

Jan Cole’s Poetry

Sisypha Larvata Prodeat
(Sisypha Wearing a Mask Advances)

Sisypha Larvata Prodeat (Sisypha Wearing a Mask Advances), one of my inaugural projects with Madville Publishing LLC, is a poetry book by my dear friend and mentor, Jan Cole. I tried to turn this project down, because it is complicated by Adelina Moya’s beautiful full-color paintings illustrating English and French poems translated into Chinese by editor Lorrie Lo and translator Angela Liu. I was simply too busy at Texas Review Press to take on a project this complex.

However, Jan Cole is persistent. She insisted that I publish this book for her. At the end of the day, the projected waited until I had time for it. Now the Huntsville Arts Commission has given us a grant to promote the book locally, and Dr. Ralph Pease (professor Emeritus from the SHSU Department of English) has written an Afterword. Several of us met on Saturday in honor of our artist, Adelina Moya, being in town.

Little Big Steps by Arash Bayatmakou

Davis, Kimberly Parish. Review: Little Big Steps by Arash Bayatmakou. Self-published, 2017.

Little Big Steps by Arash Bayatmakou tells the story of a one determined man’s refusal to allow a spinal cord injury with its attendant negative diagnosis to dampen his enthusiasm for life, or his desire to walk again. Arash, with eloquent, yet accessible language takes readers chronologically through three years of his life, beginning with the day, an ordinary day like any other, when he fell three stories and broke his neck. He doesn’t sugarcoat the deep depression or anger that followed his injury, but more than anything, he takes issue with the lack of care he received from the medical profession and the failure of his insurance company to support him when he needed it. In a situation that has consigned many others before him to life in a wheelchair, Arash holds fast to the belief that he will regain the use of his legs one day. With the unfailing support of a devoted and loving family, Arash found his way to healers and techniques that defy the negative prognosis routinely doled out by traditional doctors. As daunting as that part of the task was, he also found creative ways to fund his therapy while helping others at the same time.

I have followed Arash’s blog,, for several years, so I’d read some of the stories he told in this book, but the book went deeper. It told me about personal things Arash never shared on the blog. It answered questions I dared not ask, but really wanted to know, like: “How can he afford all these fancy therapies?” and “Who takes care of him?” I was touched to learn about Arash’s close relationship with his parents and to get to know his fiancé Britta, the blond beauty he had mentioned in the blog.

I always knew that Arash was a talented writer, and this book bears that out. He has a gift for language, and an intelligence that shines forth in his ability to analyze situations and describe the complicated emotions he has had to negotiate. I recommend this book for everyone as it offers a powerful example of the power of faith, not in any specific deity, but in the innate intuition that we each possess, but few of us know how to listen to.

Madville Publishing

I’ll be honest, I’ve been on the academic job market for a while now. As Paul Ruffin’s assistant, then “acting” director of Texas Review Press since his death, I have known for a couple of years that I needed to be looking for a new job. What I’ve found is that there are not a lot of job openings in publishing for people with my experience.

I have had the very good fortune of connecting with a group of editors I know and respect, and I have signed on with them at Goliad Review & Press as Production Manager.

Still, that doesn’t satisfy all the requests I have from writers and editors. These are two groups of people I have come to know, and they sometimes overlap. The writers want help getting their work to press, and the editors want work to edit. So, I’m starting a small publishing business that will publish a few titles per year as well as offering a variety of author services. I’m excited about the launch of Madville Publishing, and I hope you will take a look at all we have to offer there.

AWP 2018

I’m heading to AWP 2018. I’m really looking forward to this conference, and I hope to see many of my writing friends there. You will find me in one of two places for most of the conference: The Texas Review Press Booth #751 or the Goliad Review & Press table, #T320.

Here is my schedule:

Thursday 3:00 – 5:00 PM
Author signing–Curt Eriksen, A Place of Timeless Harmony, TRP booth #751. (I’ll have to leave at 4:15, but Curt will be there till 5:00)

Thursday 4:30-5:45 PM
I will be moderator for “The Places America Forgot,” Room 11, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor (My friends Michael Gills and Joseph D. Haske will be reading from their fiction.)

Friday 1:00-3:00 PM
Author signing–Theodora Bishop, On the Rocks, TRP booth #751



Friday 3:00 PM-5:00 PM
Author signing–Michael Gills, The House Across from the Deaf School and “The Death of Bonnie and Clyde” and Other Stories, TRP booth #751
(last year there was whiskey)

Saturday 11:30-1:30 PM
Author signing–Lindsay Illich, “Rile & Heave,” TRP booth #751

Goliad Review and Press

I can, at last, brag about my new position at Goliad Review and Press. Since last November, I have been working with some friends from South Texas to bring a new literary journal and press to life. Have a look at this page, and you’ll see my name on the masthead as Production Manager. 

It’s a pleasure to work with this bunch of very smart men, and so many talented authors.