Thursday, May 01, 2008

Loose Ends: Short Stories and Poems by Les Combs

#35 Loose Ends: Short Stories and Poems by Les Combs
Copyright 2008
Lulu Press (
217 pages

What led you to pick up this book? The author is a friend of a friend. I've read some of his stories, in the past, and enjoyed them. So, when my friend Cindi asked if I'd be willing to read and review the book, I jumped at the chance.

Summarize, if you would please, without giving anything away. Since the book is a collection of Les Combs' short stories and poems, I'll summarize a few favorites:

Harry B: A reporter assigned to interview a group of devil worshipers invading Arkansas meets with an awkward fate.

Amana from Heaven: A man whose death was caused by a falling refrigerator finds himself in an interesting heavenly predicament.

: After his wife kicks him out and ends up with most of their possessions, Custis takes off on a hitchhiking journey. When the story opens up, Custis isn't certain whether he's in Kansas or Oklahoma, but he's certainly found trouble. And, trouble follows him wherever he goes. This story is worth the price of the book; it's a riot.

That Woman: A recently widowed man who was happily married for many years finds himself hoodwinked into a second marriage and meekly allows the new wife to alter his life until she goes one step too far.

What did you like most about the book? There were quite a few stories that made me smile or chuckle. I love a clever, surprising, smile-inducing story. A book full of them is even better.

What did you think of the characters? They were a varied lot and I had a few particular favorites, but there's a wide enough variety that they can't be easily described in one paragraph. Better to read the book. If I had to choose a couple of favorites, they'd be trouble-magnet Custis and the widowed Walter.

Favorite Quotes:

There's a lot of sky over west Texas with not much of interest under it. -- Tumbleweed

You see, it's all on account of a woman. I never met anyone like her in my whole life, and now she's gone. Walked right out that door over there and left me trying to fix a broke heart by pouring Budweiser on it. -- Scars

Irvin had acquired a look of panic surrounded by desperation with a touch of terror. -- The Ceremony

Thumbs up, 4/5 - I really enjoyed the stories in this book. Poetry is a hard sell for me, so admittedly I paid more attention to the stories than the poems; but, I found the storytelling witty and the author often takes the reader in totally unexpected directions. I love that.

In general: I think Loose Ends would probably fit into the "Southern Lit" category, as many of the stories are set in Arkansas or thereabouts. Both dialogue and narrative often have what I would term a "down home" Southern influence without falling so heavily into dialect that they become annoying.

Next up: Reviews of
It Happened in Oklahoma
by Robert L. Dorman and
The Disagreement by Nick Taylor.

Just finished:
An Irish Country Doctor
by Patrick Taylor

Just walked in the door:
Moonstruck by Susan Grant (Squeee! Thanks, Susan!!!)
Demons Are a Ghoul's Best Friend (Thanks, Tammy!!!)

Husband's favorite lizard photo of the week:

Warning: If you don't like being stared at and you aren't fond of reptiles, this photo might creep you out.

Wowee, talk about a direct gaze.


  1. I love that photo. He's so bright! It kinda offsets a little bit of his scariness.

  2. Killed by a falling refrigerator? Devil worshipers? That sounds absolutely wonderful!

    And the picture is amazing. So intense and just a tad bit creepy...


  3. Oh, I'm not creeped out! I love him; I think he's beautiful.

  4. This one sounds like a winner in the short story department. Love the title "Amana Falling from Heaven" and the quotes!

  5. I am not a lizard fan, but I love this picture. :) The vivid green against the rock . . . and the piercing eyes - Very Cool!

  6. Nikki,

    That's my favorite anole lizard shade, actually, that bright green. Those little guys are chameleons. I've sometimes watched them change colors several times as they moved around the garden. But, he looks a little severe in that photo. Kind of freaks me out. Who'd have thought? :)


    Yep, falling refrigerators, devil worshipers . . . a guy who has to figure out what to do after he's apparently killed a judge with a golf ball while the judge had his pants down . . . the stories are definitely unique. Loose Ends is a fun read.

    "Intense" is right. And, yeah, even I find it a bit creepy.

  7. Bybee,

    Awww, thanks. I'm sure he'd love you, too, even though you're not green. He was showing off for a little brown girly lizard. She wasn't doing a very good job of camouflage (the shutters she was hiding in are moss green) but she definitely was paying attention to that guy. I think we're going to have some hatchlings in a month or two. Yeah!


    I think so. I really enjoyed the uniqueness and light touch of these stories. You do have to love that title, don't you? LOL


    Thank you. That color is smashing, isn't it? So, you're not normally a lizard fan? Give me a few months; I'll convert you. ;)

  8. That is such a cool picture!! I love it!

  9. This book sounds really good! I've been in a short story mood all of a sudden. I have no idea why. I started a book called Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic and it's really cool! All fantasy stories set in the deep south ;) You'd like it I'm sure. I just joined Bookmooch too and added Simon Van Booy's book! It's been on my wishlist for awhile, so I hope I find a copy.

    Love that lizard photo! Very creepy...he looks like a little dinosaur or something.

  10. Anonymous1:23 PM

    I think he'll be expecting his royalty check. I wouldn't be late with it.

    Amana from Heaven! LOL! I love wordplay (aka puns). The book sounds interesting! For some reason, short stories are a hard sell for me, but I pick up enough of them.

  11. Wahoo for awesome lizard pictures! And wahoo for you, Bookfool.

  12. Great shot of the lizard! I may have to save a copy of the picture to borrow at a later date. It's just too good to not use for something. And, of course, I'll give credit where it's due. ;)

  13. April,

    Thanks! It's nice to "see" you! :)


    Yep, the Southern fantasies sound interesting. And, you undoubtedly know what I think of Simon's book. Love it, love it. I peeked in at his MySpace site, recently, and noticed that he's finished his novel and has a publication date. The man is a whirlwind. I can't wait to read his novel!

    Well, I suppose that lizard is a relative of the dinosaurs, right? Oh, dear. I don't know my science at all. He does have that look, though, I agree!

  14. Carrie,

    The lizard wants royalties? I'll have to actually earn some money off of his face, first. LOL He looked like he'd eat me if I made a false move, so I'd at least have to give him a few insects to munch down on.

    I've actually come to love short stories, in recent years, but I think it's a rare writer who can pull them off. Simon, of course . . . well. You and I are in agreement, there.


    Awww, thanks. I'm a wahoo? Neato. The lizard and I are very grateful. At least, I am. He looks kind of like a bouncer on the verge of grabbing a collar, to me.

  15. Les,

    Why, thank you. That sounds like an XL-sized compliment. I'm sure my lizard would also thank you. Except, really, he's not mine. But I can pretend.

  16. What a cute lizard! That's an awesome photo.
    I thought of you this weekend - a small lizard went into our garage, and everytime he tried to get out again, I would be walking by, and he would get scared and scurry back in. poor lizard. No camera with me though, so didn't get a picture.

  17. Kris,

    Thank you! Isn't he creepy, though? I got some more interesting lizard pics, today. We've got lizards hanging out in four specific places -- the guys are displaying and the girls, if you watch, are very interested. One of the females is actually looking kind of fat around the belly! Yay, lizard babies forthcoming!

    I love it when people see lizards and hawks and think about me! It makes me all glowy. Yeah, those little guys are skittish. I move verrrrry slooooowly, when I want to photograph them. I'm sure your lizard had no problem finding his way out, once you left. Funny that he kept running right back in the garage. Imagine if you ended up with little lizard hatchlings crawling all over your cars. LOL


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