The Redemption Revelations
by Carlyle Clark
with stories by Nescher Psycher
Make Luck Press, Amazon Digital Services, Inc., 2012
“He thought of his life and how not one person cared for him. He thought of Redemption and how not one person wasn’t cared for.”
– Redemption’s Lament
Redemption’s Lament, by Carlyle Clark, is a collection of five short stories by Clark and another author, Nescher Pyscher, located in Redemption, Arkansas. They evoke Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony and Cisnero’s Woman Hollering Creek. Clark works kachina magic, incorporating all gods and demons outside of indigenous borders. Men fight and love with gods and temporal ideas.
The first two stories, “Redemption, Junior Walker, and Me,” and “Witchblood Blues,” both by Clark, use the cadence of myth translated from Native American legend into American English. Spare and vibrant in voice, they speak outside the page. They sound less like new fiction, and more like legends we already know, and should not forget. Cosmic eternal deities duke it out with an amped up oversized human and reflect the universal in the common.
The second two stories, “The Storm” and “Cold Night at Bludgate,” by Nescher Pyscher, suffer by their placement. It is unclear if they would be well-enjoyed on their own, but on the tails of Clark’s opening, they sound over-written, over-studied, and unnaturally exerted. The verb tenses stutter and the adjectives are implausible. They ask too much of the reader with jagged shifts in point of view. Unfortunately, they also don’t seem to add to the story arc created by the first two and sewed up by the final story in the collection. They involve some of the same characters, but this anthology on its own does not explain why these two stories are needed in the canopy story of the man who fought death.
“Redemption’s Lament” is the final story in the collection. Clark’s prose falters occasionally in this piece, but the imagery and symbolism compensate adequately.
To discuss them more would be to write spoilers… For the fan of borderland fiction, the first two stories alone are well worth the time.
This review was first published on irevuo.com