Collard County

A Collection of Short Stories

Fiction - Paranormal
64 Pages
Reviewed on 02/21/2014
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Tamara J. Madison is an internationally traveled author, poet, performer, and instructor. Her critical and creative works have been published in various journals and magazines including Poetry International, Web del Sol, Tidal Basin Review, aaduna, and Black Magnolias. She has also been published in several anthologies: Temba Tupu, Check the Rhyme, Seattle Poets and Photographers, and SisterFire.

A consummate performance poet and spoken word artist, Tamara has performed for numerous stages and television. She is the Grand Prize Winner of the First Literary Recording Contest for Manzanita Quarterly and AUTHENTIC VOICEwork Records. Her melodic poetry and spoken word are featured in the award winning album, Naked Voice currently available on CD Baby.

She has also performed and recorded as bilingual vocalist and poet (French and English) with Juba Collective of Chicago under the direction of master composer and musician, Kahil El'Zabar.

Her most recent collection, Kentucky Curdled (poetry and essay) is available in paperback, on Kindle (Amazon), and poetry audiobook (on CD Baby).

She loves to hear from fellow readers and writers!

To contact her for workshops, lectures or performances and for her newsletter and blog with updates on her new releases, visit her home on the web at http://tamarajmadison.com/.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Tania Staley for Readers' Favorite

Once in a while, an author will create a collection of short stories that breaks the mold and attempts to transform the way people think about fiction. Tamara J. Madison’s book Collard County: A Collection of Short Stories does this. Her words break down preconceived notions about the world and force readers out of their comfort zones in order to reconsider the way the world works. Her stories are raw and powerful, digging into the murky elements of society, yet have a magical and hopeful air to them as well. In “Barren” and “Cycles”, the strength of femininity is explored. In the surreal story, “Misplaced”, a woman comes to the shocking realization that parts of her body have disappeared and only by reclaiming them will she be made whole again. In these thought-provoking stories and in the rest of the collection, readers will find themselves easily immersed. Collard County is a short fiction reader’s ideal collection. If you are looking for something exciting and new, then look no further.

Tamara J. Madison states in her preface that she prefers to call her short stories “poetic fiction” or “poetic paranormal” works, and I cannot think of a better way to describe her writing. Her writing has a beautiful, almost lyrical quality. Each word seems to have been carefully chosen so that, just as in poetry, the rhythm and sound of the words is just as important as what they say. Rather than going for strict realism, Madison instead reveals spiritual and philosophical truths through her stories. There is a magical element to her stories that is quite breathtaking, even when it does not entirely make sense. I urge readers to read her stories like they would a poem, realizing that one person’s interpretation may be different from another’s. Her stories are the best when a reader can let go and enjoy the ride, and it is quite a wonderful ride, indeed. Reading a short story collection that is so brave and new is quite refreshing. I highly recommend this collection and it would be a joy to read more from Tamara J. Madison. Collard County is a book that I will be reading again.

Felecia

Collard County is beautiful, lyrical, and really well written. It is a quick, yet powerful read. The stories are familiar. Each one of them have stayed with me long after reading them.

Ajeemah

Collard County is a picture book without the pictures. The author brings a very metaphoric and poetic style to the collection of stories in this book, which paint vivid pictures for the reader. A story is always better when you can envision or feel the mood and the reader is able to do both in this book. The woman characters in this book are inspiring yet not perfect just as their stories are. I recommend this book for audiences that enjoy black literature.

Gretchen

This is a short collection of stories. The author bills her style as "poetic fiction" or "poetic paranormal" and her collection of stories all have a supernatural or fantastical element to them. I liked her story "Misplaced" which is about a woman who suddenly realizes she is missing parts of herself - fingers, an ear, etc and that this had happened because she constantly was "giving" of herself and not paying any attention/caring for herself. I liked that imagery, and I think we all can identify with that feeling. In another story, "Barren," the author describes the coming of a medical team to a black shantytown that perform medical "experiments" on the black women. The author makes you think of the history of the real-life experiments that were done in the USA, but she twists the story by adding a supernatural element of having a type of medicine woman who fights back against the medical team in her own way. The stories are all very short, but they cover a lot. I could see some of these stories being more fleshed out if the author wanted or being used as a character in a larger novel.

Meghan

I chose to read this book after finding and agreeing to read her other book, Kentucky Curdled, for an r2r. I love short stories and something about it caught my attention.

It was a nice little book of short stories. The author is very good with catching your interest and describing things in a way that makes you see it in your head as you read her words. I enjoyed these stories - my two favorites being Barren (incredible) and Misplaced (really made me think) - and I look forward to reading more from this author.

Note: I received a copy of this book for my honest review.

George

Tamara truly is a poet baptized in rhythm. I liked it.
It was a good decision to read her book. Sometimes when I travel I see a lake with a million wrinkles on its surface, still, not breathing, waiting in patience for something and then I see the evening sun making love to it. Some things in life are beautiful in their own way and this is one of those.

As I read the stories what came into my mind was a poem I read in high school,years ago- “Aunts Jennifer’s Tigers”. Aunt Jennifer was a woman who in the poem was knitting a sweater and on the wall lay a portrait of Tigers that Jennifer had painted herself. Jennifer’s life had been one where she dutifully went about doing her chores and in the process lost herself. The weight of the marriage ring hung heavily on her. The painting of the Tiger was in the opinion of the poet a way to express her long lost freedom. Bold, free, creatures of the wild they were and what Jennifer was not, could not.

One of her stories Misplaced came as a slap across the face for I thought of the women close to me, my aunts, my mother who were lost in their chores forever. An endless chain of monotony. There are no tears that can heal them.
A recurring theme of suffering, of women lost in pain, under situations which were not in their control was found in her stories and yet they were not vague. I thought for a brief moment that all stories would be like “ Misplaced” but thankfully they were not.

It is amazing to see her thought process the way you write her thoughts when she made love, the way you conceived your stories.

And the sack of chittlin's-well mind blowing, if you read that you will know what I mean!

Trevor

Received a copy of Collard County by Tamara J. Madison through the First Reads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review

This book is a collection of poetic fiction that revolves around the mystique of the meta-physical. This was a short read but purposely dense. With poetic tone I often have to make sure I breathe correctly in order to maximize comprehension, otherwise I may have to read a story four or five times turning a short story into a long story. With no grounds for a formal introduction, short stories often throw you right into the fire leaving you with your own resources in trying to preclude the author's intent and motivation.

Writing a cohesive review for a book of short stories is quite difficult so I would like to share some of the thoughts I had while reading.

BARREN- Story of life on the "good" and "bad" sides of the tracks. Segregated community, acceptance of a civilization supporting selfishness for one-sided prosperity, government issued residential expropriation, concealed/disguised medical procedure for the purpose of racial cleansing, divine intervention leading to life's freedom.

MISPLACED- Metaphorical twist on the continual regression of the mind,body,and soul from day-to-day grind of one's life. You may give yourself willingly, but their are times when you also may permit friends,family,clientele to take more then they should. The search for lost money provided an epiphany for the need for the regeneration of a lost self. This is not something that happens over night. It takes years and years to learn this behaviour, and it will take the same amount of time for it to be repressed. Some people are givers in nature, so it is okay if the triple beam resides on that side but not for the sake of sufficiency and sustainability.

CYCLES- The progression of spiritual prodigies knows no bounds. You are left to your own devices until a certain event takes place not a measure of time. From that point your existence is endless and your antecedents and descendants will carry with them the experiences for life's to come. Their must be a common feeling among mother's that have gone through strenuous pregnancies; that the birth is only a harbinger of the trouble the child will cause you, or more optimistically the baby will truly be special. Let's hope for the latter.

HUSH- You can rewrite the future but you can't escape the past. Story describing the rise and fall of two churches within a coloured community. The Greater Mount Olive of Galilee had traditional offerings commonly found in church. The congregation hated one another and the older members were treated with little care. Pastor was a great service to the community but became predatory as he got older. The churches downfall was contingent on his own personal demise.The African First Baptist Church was innovative, musical, entertaining and in some respects reinvented the image of God. The public were hesitant at first, but seeing the love found in the church they ended forming a tight knit congregation were there was no discrimination towards the young and old. Although successful the church is reminded of the fear often found in change, and the unfortunate reality of living during racially charged times.

BURNT BOTTOMS- Love thy neighbour. Is infidelity wrong if your significant other is okay with it? Does woman's intuition bear fruit and form a true reality? This is a hard realization for marrying someone physically out of your league. For me personally it is part of the reason I could not marry someone like Jennifer Lawrence. Certain aspects of my life would be beyond great;) with the same respect my life would be equally miserable. Insecurities and jealousy would induce angina and would put me in the ground a lot earlier than I would like. With this story the stipulations of their partnership agreement are the focus, and the whole live by the sword, die by the sword holds true.

Eileen

I received a copy of this book through a first-reads giveaway and I enjoyed it. Although some stories took awhile to comprehend (and had to be read multiple times), it's worth it once the story is fully understood because then you can appreciate the story's value and morals. Personally, I still don't fully understand everything in this book but I think that it's good that the stories don't directly state their meaning but instead they make you think and interpret what's going on so that each person will have their own understanding/thoughts on each of the stories. I think the whole collection of short stories are beautifully written in a poetic style and I like how the author is very descriptive in her writing in a way that the words seem to jump off the page into lively images in the reader's mind.