on 25 April 2014
Dan's writing is fresh, daring and diverse. His writing tackles the whole spectrum of sex, birth, life, relationships and death in this world and other worlds. His prose is beautifully crafted and the characters have depth and dimension. My particular favourite stories were: Half mown lawn, Looking for Daddy, Leaving what's left and What we don't talk about when we talk about Cancer. However, I enjoyed all the stories for different reasons. This collection is one that you find yourself dipping back into. The first read through, you get a satisfying story, the second read you admire the language and the third time you appreciate the effort and talent that must have gone into creating each one of the stories. I look forward to reading Dan's next collection.
on 18 May 2014
The stories in this collection affect the reader in different ways. Dan's able to create some thought-provoking and powerful scenes in few words; a very rare talent. The grit and realism in his style of writing is something that I've not often come across and is sometimes very poignant. The length of each story varies and some can be read, re-read and interpreted in any number of ways. I look forward to reading more from you, Dan!
on 22 May 2014
Dan Powell's stories encompass the ordinary moments in life but are viewed through a kaleidoscopic eyeglass. The thoughts or near-thoughts that we all might have at some point in our lives haunt the stories. The barriers are breached by characters that spring from the page. They are in your living room with their tales of darkness and treachery; they are right in front of you spilling their lives in scenes that are thought provoking, poignant, and at times, very intimate. In the title story, 'Looking out of broken windows,' the fracturing glass seems real at first but we are encouraged to doubt the perception of the narrator and even in the final scene we still cannot be sure when at the very end: 'I watched cracks emerge from the ceiling rose and spread across the magnolia expanse...'
'What we don't talk about when we talk about cancer,' is one of the most poignant stories. The cancer speaks and the protagonist/narrator responds at first by making deals with the illness in order to have more time for all the celebratory moments of life––the family wedding, the graduation. But the inevitable arrives; the slipping away, the moments of dying, the diminishing of the life of the voice, the voice of disease, both physically and with the final breath––it fades and even on the page the visible words deplete as the size of the font decreases...
A stunning collection of original stories.
on 16 May 2016
Salt Publishing are really spoiling me with their short story collections this year, with this being the third of their published collections I have, so far, read in 2016. I picked up Dan Powell’s collection of award-winning stories at my local library, with little more than a glance at its contents. It is packed to the rafters with stories, from those of little more than a couple of paragraphs to those of a far longer length. Powell manages to fill each story, regardless of its length, with prose that is filled with drama.
The title story, Looking Out of Broken Windows, is the first that the reader comes to. Telling of a son who sees “metaphorical cracks” in his mother’s windows, which require “metaphorical mending,” it is comedic, whilst equally telling of a maternal relationship. The parenting theme continues at various points throughout the collection, with a somber look at death, and the restraint of an overly-protective mother. What Powell manages to do is take a similar relationship and yet outwork it in so many different narratives. Whatever tone he takes, each story is successful.
There are two stories that struck me the most as I was reading and that I think will stay with me for a long time to come. Looking for Daddy begins with the sentence:
“Daddy was poorly and we lost him,” Mummy tells me.
What follows is a heartbreaking page of a young child searching high and low for the father he believes is simply missing and whom he is intent on finding again. It was such a simplistic story of loss from the perspective of childhood, and Powell managed to get the tone just right, with a childlike voice and mindset that was realistic.
The second story I loved, in particular, and again on the theme of grief, was Impact. Looking at the impact differing events have on us, it was another very short story, on a single page, but the power in those limited words is profound.
There was tragedy, humour and a little of the fantastical within the pages of Looking Out of Broken Windows. For this reason, I can easily imagine it having real meaning for any number of readers. I was dumbfounded by the quality of writing and will be keeping an eye out for any further writing from Dan Powell, without a doubt.