Henry writes with a blend of poignant humor and sadness about the fundamental fact that we are not in control of our lives and that forces we do not fully understand compel us to do the things we do. — Neal S. Burdick
New! from Ra Press — Letters (1855)
Follow James and Sadie Grey, separated by one crisis after another as James is called to a difficult birth, before being summoned north to The Hollow, a haven for young girls who suffer a variety of traumas, to investigate a rash of mysterious 'faintings.' At home, Sadie cares for patients and the practice, and encounters several mysteries of her own, including a hidden pregnancy, a fake birth, and a mistaken baby, who vanishes after a mishap at the county fair when a lantern tips during a Fox sisters' séance.
... his style is wonderful — elusive, elliptical, but always bringing it on home poetically — David Donohue
Author conversation: Rick Henry's new novel, "Letters (1855)" with Betsy Kepes / North Country Public Radio
Purchase from Ra Press Bookstore
Purchase from Amazon
Perhaps my favorite poem in the book is called "Lisp." It seems to be quoting from an unidentified source talking about the creation of a pure mode of communication, mentioning Marconi, Turing and the DNA code. But over the course of the poem, the lines morph in the inevitable small ways in which all communication manages to fail us. The poem seems to undo itself into meaninglessness - until you realize that if read downward, you encounter the first words uttered over the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell to his assistant, which are - ironically, I've always thought - "Watson, come quick I need you." — Marilyn McCabe
A great book that hits many odd and dark notes. The typography and design pose even more of a challenge than a Kenneth Patchen affair yet the struggle is worth it. Children turn into lagoons, a lover's bathrobe is obsessively described, mannequins take over an apartment, a doctor prescribes jasmine pills, eccentric diners are jilted, the elderly advise about hot rods and going blind. Odd premises abound: "There had been a girl on the beach whose lungs were so powerful she'd moved the ocean from their towel on the sand. She'd inhale, exhale, inhale, and so set the rhythm of the waves with her diaphragm." The oddity is stepped into so naturally and with such a wealth of carefully observed detail that one is swept along. I'd compare it to Brian Evenson's work, though it consists of generally more fragmented tales that have a voice all their own. — Matthew D. Jasper
As for the words that are assigned to these modes . . . they (mean) nothing, but (are) . . . expressions of joy. — Aurelian
There had been winter. There had been spring. Then there was summer and evening and night and the overture of crickets on the wind. There were the thrums of bullfrogs and the thumps of crows' wings and the invisible scrapes and rustles and hushes and the popping of snow fleas.
Chant’s musical material is derived from the neumatic notation of Gregorian chant that proceeds each chapter of the audiobook. Gregorian chant was developed during the 9th and 10th-centuries within the Roman Catholic Church as a means of standardizing plainsong practices throughout the churchdom. Originally sung as monophonic plainchant (one musical voice or unison voices), monks began to experiment with an improvised tradition of adding harmonic voices sung a 5th or 4th above or below the notated melody, a practice known as organum.
When creating the audiobook with Rick, we decided that organum would be an interesting practice for realizing the structural musical notation.The use of harmony reinforces the idea that these characters are not acting in isolation with one another; rather, it is the relationships between them that propels the story forward. The improvisatory origins of organum (and the ornamentations you hear in the musical realization) reflects the idea that these characters are active agents whose decisions to some degree are always improvisatory. Because these characters are not Medieval monks, they are removed from the standardized practices of Gregorian chant’s origins. This removal allows the characters to more freely interpret the musical structures they find. Lastly, we decided that guitar and flute would be the most appropriate instruments, as they represent F’s guitar and E’s flute. — Nils Klykken
Current work includes a project on Percival Wilde (1887-1953), an American writer of one-act plays, novels, screen adaptations, and children’s plays.