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From the outpost: jim bourey reviews Have I Said Too Much by Carmen Delzell, from Paycock Press

Have I Said Too Much?

by Carmen Delzell

Short Stories

Paycock Press 2021

These short stories, some only a few paragraphs long, range through a fictionalized version of the life of the author. And Carmen Delzell’s real life is every bit as interesting as the stories she tells. According to her bio she has lived a life of wandering independence, raised children along the way, written and recorded her stories which have appeared in a variety of venues, and shopped in a lot of thrift stores. This collection has a singular voice, though its tone can also vary, going from humorous to needy to brave to self-indulgent to defiant.

Ms. Delzell meets some interesting characters in her stories. Homeless folks, artists and musicians, addicts, and businesspeople show themselves in a few quick details, deftly becoming real inhabitants of the author’s world. There is no phony sentimentality about these stories or the characters living in them. There is irony. There is quirkiness and some real oddity. But the author seems to find a way to respect all her characters no matter how unusual their foibles.

Have I Said Too Much? Is a captivating and amusing collection. I found myself skipping around the stories, reading some more than once, as I marveled at the clarity of description or the naturalness of the dialogue. Ms. Delzell’s protagonists may be modeled on herself. If they are, or even if they are just a well-defined shadow of the author, then she’s someone I’d like to meet in person. And I recommend this book to readers who like a different slant on how to live an interesting life.

jim bourey is a poet with a lot of life experience, which is to say he’s old. His first book, a chapbook called Silence, Interrupted was published by The Broadkill River Press and was selected as best book of verse by the Delaware Press Writers Association in 2015. His second collection called The Distance Between Us was published by Cold River Press in 2020. And he is co-author, with Linda Blaskey, of Season of Harvest from

Pond Road Press, 2022. His next collection will be released in Spring, 2023. He and his wife Linda reside on the edge of the Adirondacks in NY State, though they do find a few months of refuge in Delaware during the deep winter.

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