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ABSALOM'S MOTHER by Louise Marley

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Orig. Price: $16.99
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Prod. Code: FP24

April 2007           978-0-9789078-3-9 

Cover design by Patrick Swenson

Louise Marley’s short stories reflect her varied life experience, from a girlhood on a Montana ranch to a career as a classical singer and teacher, to her successes as a writer of science fiction and fantasy. Known primarily as a novelist, Marley creates distinct worlds even in her short work. In this volume, readers will travel from post-World War II Montana to an nineteenth-century villa in Tuscany, to a space colony where women rebel against the draft, and to a concert hall in a near-future Seattle. Each story offers unforgettable characters, vivid settings, and something to think about.

"Marley's first collection covers a wide range of the fantastic with a keen eye for human character and motivation. The title story, inspired by the biblical fate of Absalom, concerns a group of women on a distant planet who sacrifice themselves to save their children from being taken away to war at younger and younger ages. "Starchild Wondersmith" gives entirely new life to the situation of the kid trying to fit in at a new school, for Starchild is a True Being; since he isn't getting the expected TB powers, he chooses transfer to a normal school and discovers hidden depths. The volume closer, "Deep River," tells of the marvelous meeting between the greatest operatic voices of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, one of them a naturalized American originally from Germany, the other a young black woman from Harlem. Marley's narrative voice is strong, and her focus on characters and emotional depth pays off in a set of satisfying, thought-provoking stories." 


"Once upon a time, Louise Marley was a concert and opera singer; now, she writes stories infused with lyrical phrase work and musical mysteries. I first discovered Marley through her novel-length works, and am pleased to now discover this facet of her. Absalom's Mother, from Fairwood Press collects ten of Marley's short stories in a small, handsome package. The title story, first published in 2006's Futureshocks anthology, remains topical and relevant today. What would a group of mothers do to protect their children from the horrors of war? What wouldn't they do? This collection ranges from the lighthearted (the antics of a barn fairy in "Small in the Saddle") to the disturbing (a stigmatic woman in "Body and Blood"); whatever you are in the mood for, the chances are good you will find it here. Marley plays with one of her favorite sports, baseball, in "Diamond Girls, and toys with the idea of a somewhat reverse Harry Potter in "Starchild Wondersmith." What if a supposed-to-be-magical child was schooled with normal kids, and discovered his magical talent among them? My favorite of the collection is, without a doubt, "p dolce," in which a man travels back in time to discover something about Brahms. What exactly did p dolce mean on his manuscripts? Of course he learns something entirely different--and made me wish for a novel-length telling of it all.  In fact, if I have one complaint about Absalom's Mother, it's that it goes by too quickly. Ten stories...how can there not be more? Marley digs into the heart of her characters, managing to create living, breathing people upon the page. I never once doubted these people were true, that they were fighting for what they believed in. Please make no mistake, Louise Marley is still singing."  


"Although I've read several novels by Louise Marley and remember them fondly, I don't think I had ever consciously noted any of her short fiction, if I've read it at all prior to this book.  There are ten stories here, spanning a wide variety of settings and themes.  The book opens with the title story, a moody piece about the conflict between the rights of the individual and the dictates of society.  The next is a lighter, and better story about the integration of female players into professional baseball.  The next two are relatively minor, although I liked the western motif in one of them, sharing the author's fond recollections of the work of Zane Grey.  "Jamie Says" is a thoughtful look at questions of gender that doesn't descend into pedantry and is my favorite in the collection.  The balance of the book includes a light fantasy, a musical prodigy, a religious novice with an unusual affliction, and a fictional meeting between two musical legends.  All of Marley's stories are centered on the characters rather than physical events, but not at the expense of storytelling.  If she was more prolific at this length, she would almost certainly be numbered among the most promising short story writers working in the field." 

     —Don D'Ammassa, Critical Mass

 "The spirit of Marley’s characters shines through darkness." 

     —Vonda McIntyre, author of Dreamsnake

"A compelling mix of sweet and dark informed by Marley’s signature theme, the cherished child." 

     —Kay Kenyon, author of The Braided World

"The place you’re going under Louise Marley’s gifted guidance is one you’ve never been before. It’s a revelation. And a journey you won’t want to miss."  

     —Connie Willis, author of Doomsday Book

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