Jacob's Reviews > The Houses of Children

The Houses of Children by Coleman Dowell
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's review
May 01, 09

liked it
bookshelves: i-own, 2007-2009, short-fiction, culling-the-herd, dalkeybooks
Read from April 16 to 29, 2009

April 2009

First thing’s first: I hate the cover. It just looks cheap and hideous. Really ugly. But I suppose beggars can’t be choosers: Coleman Dowell seems to be largely unknown and unread, so I guess an ugly book is better than letting him go out of print. Still…meh.

But I digress. About a year ago, I found an ancient copy of Mrs. October Was Here in a clearance bin at a grocery store, of all places, and in my futile search to find out more about Dowell (the man doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page) I found this collection of stories. Read the first one--“Wool Tea”--and returned it to the library without looking at the rest. It wasn’t bad or anything; on the contrary, “Wool Tea” was so good, I didn’t want to read the rest for free. The cover may have been ugly, sure, but I was going to buy the collection before reading any more. It was just that good.

The other stories? Not so much. Oh, none of the stories were really bad or anything, but aside from a small sample of the other titles (“Singing in the Clump,” “I Envy You Your Great Adventure,” maybe “The Great Godalmighty Bird”), none of the stories really held up to the fantastic dreamlike atmosphere of “Wool Tea.” Nothing bad, but nothing I’d really care to reread. I suppose I must’ve fooled myself with high expectations. Still, Dowell is a fairly good writer, and certainly worth reading for his hypnotic prose.
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