Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Anthology – Distant Flickers: Stories of Identity & Loss

Delighted to share my review for the anthology Distant Flickers: Stories of Identity & Loss – by eight very talented authors.

About the anthology

  • 8 Accomplished Authors
  • 10 Memorable Stories
  • Compelling Characters at a Crossroads
  • What Choices Will They Make?

The emotive stories in this anthology take readers to the streets of New York and San Francisco, to warm east coast beaches, rural Idaho, and Italy, from the early 1900s, through the 1970s, and into present day.

A sinister woman accustomed to getting everything she wants. A down-on-his luck cook who stumbles on goodness. A young mother who hides $10 she received from a stranger. The boy who collects secrets. A young woman stuck between youth and adulthood. Children who can’t understand why their mother disappears.

The distinct and varied characters in Distant Flickers stand at a juncture. The loss of a spouse, a parent, a child, one’s self. Whether they arrived at this place through self-reflection, unexpected change, or new revelations—each one has a choice to make.

My review for the anthology November 19th 2022

This is an intriguing collection of 10 short stories from masters of their craft. They explore the human condition beautifully, and with great insight, engaging the reader and evoking long buried moments and memories

I enjoyed all the stories but I would like to highlight one or two that I found particularly compelling.

Childhood is confusing enough but keeping secrets can weigh you down, and where do you keep them for safekeeping? What will happen if they escape and what will be the consequences? A dilemma facing a young boy in Where Secrets Go to Hide by Keith Madsen.

In “Norfolk, Virginia, 1975” by Elizabeth Gauffreau we are introduced to a young military wife and mother who has been uprooted from her home and support system. She finds herself living on the edge of poverty, debating how she can provide for the needs of her baby and create the home she dreamed of when she married. Fairy tales usually only lie between the pages of a book, but sometimes the kindness of a stranger can make all the difference.

On a more chilling note, The Coveting by Rita Baker is a tale of greed and manipulation about a woman who places her own needs before all others. I think many of us have met individuals  who enjoy this game of domination in the pursuit of self interest, but this story might have you questioning the intentions of a few more people you meet going forward.

I also found it fascinating to read the author’s notes that accompany each story. Often you are left wondering what had inspired the concept and its meaning to the writer, and this added another interesting element to the collection.

I can highly recommend the anthology and all the stories for readers who enjoy well written observations on life that engage, entertain and stir the emotions. It is also a wonderful introduction to the authors and their other published works.

Head over to buy the anthology: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK – Read reviews: Goodreads

About the authors

Rita Baker has lived in Canada since leaving England with her husband to follow their two sons. Reading has been her passion from an early age, Somerset Maugham, H. G. Wells, and, of course, Shakespeare that was drummed into her at school, whose works she also happened to love. Baker writes, “While being a wife and mother is most fulfilling, writing has been my vocation since the age of six when I used to sit before the fire and dream of princes and princesses as depicted in the fairy-tale books that were my passion, and as I grew, so my stories grew with me until, at last, I was able to fulfill my heart’s desire to write. Happily, my life has been full of all the things necessary for a writer to draw from, love, joy, heartrending moments of immeasurable pain and heartache, loss, and happily, fulfillment. Everything that living is about, the living that is so necessary to fulfill a writer’s heart and mind.” Her short story “A Spoonful of Soup” appears in Distant Flickers. Amazon and Twitter

Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a B.A. in English from Old Dominion University and an M.A. in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Her fiction and poetry have been published in literary magazines and several themed anthologies. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published in 2018. Liz lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire with her husband. Two of her short stories appear in Distant Flickers. Amazon and Twitter

John Casey is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and novelist from New Hampshire. A Veteran combat and test pilot, Casey also served as a Diplomat and International Affairs Strategist at U.S. embassies in Germany and Ethiopia, the Pentagon, and elsewhere. He is inspired by the incredible spectrum of people, places and cultures he has experienced in life.  His poem “Distant Flickers” inspired the anthology’s title. Amazon And Twitter

Carol LaHines is an award-winning author whose fiction has appeared in Fence, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Denver Quarterly, Cimarron Review, The Literary Review, The Laurel Review, Sycamore Review, Permafrost, redivider, Literal Latte and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the Lamar York Prize for Fiction. Her short stories and novellas have also been finalists for the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction from Sarabande Books, the David Nathan Meyerson fiction prize, the New Letters short story award, and the Disquiet Literary Prize, among others. Two of her short stories appear in Distant Flickers. Amazon and Twitter

Keith Madsen is a retired minister who lives in East Wenatchee, Washington with his wife Cathy. He serves with AmeriCorps, teaching English to immigrants and helping low-income families with financial asset-building. He also teaches children and youth chess. He roots for the Seattle Mariners and enjoys the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. He has published short stories in Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Talking River, Short Story America,and Adelaide.  His story “Where Secrets Go to Hide” appears in Distant Flickers. Amazon and Facebook

Jim Metzner is a sound recordist and radio producer, best known as the host of the Pulse of the Planet radio series and podcast. He’s currently working on a memoire, “Adventures of a Lifelong Listener,” which weaves together sounds and stories to explore the mystery of listening.  His story “The Woman in Question” appears in Distant Flickers. Jim Metzner Website  and Twitter

Donna Koros-Stramella is a novelist whose short pieces have appeared in anthologies, literary magazines, and national online and print publications. She is a previous award-winning journalist and scriptwriter who spent decades as a communication strategist and senior writer in the corporate and government domains. A Maryland resident, she received her MFA from the University of Tampa. Her first novel, Coffee Killed My Mother, was published by Adelaide Books in 2020, and she is nearing completion on her second book, Among the Bones.  Her story “Hendrix & Wild Ponies” appears in Distant Flickers. Amazon and Facebook

Joyce Yarrow is a New York City transplant now living in Seattle. Joyce began her writing life scribbling poems on the subway and observing human behavior from every walk of life. The author of five novels, she is a Pushcart Prize nominee with short stories and essays that have appeared in Inkwell Journal, Whistling Shade, Descant, Arabesques, Weber: The Contemporary West, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. Her short story “Idaho Dreams” appears in Distant Flickers. Amazon and Twitter

Amy E. Wallen is the author of the best-selling novel, MoonPies & Movie Stars (Penguin 2007), and the memoir, When We Were Ghouls: A Memoir of Ghost Stories (University of Nebraska 2018). Her sardonic look at writing and its demands, and her mad love of pie come together in her third book, How to Write a Novel in 20 Pies: Sweet & Savory Secrets from the Writing Life (Andrews McMeel October 2022). As writer-in-residence at Ocean Discovery Institute, Amy teaches personal storytelling to young people traditionally excluded from science due to race, income status, and educational opportunity. She also provides book editing services for persevering writers.  Amazon and Facebook


Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with a copy of Distant Flickers.  Sally

58 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Anthology – Distant Flickers: Stories of Identity & Loss

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – 14th – 20th November 2022 – New Book, Tony Bennett, Hits of the 40s, Spiritual Awareness, Christmas Book Fair, Podcast, Health, Bloggers and Funnies | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  2. An excellent review, Sally. I had such a hard time picking favorites since they were all wonderfully written. Congrats to Keith, Liz, and Rita, as well as all the other authors for their stand-out stories. 🙂

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