Steven Carr's SAND
For those of us who spend any time at all in writing groups on social media the name of Steven Carr is familiar.
Here is a writer who is not only one of the most prolific and consistent short story writers around, but also one of the most polite and genuine people - hardly a day passes by without some news of another of his stories being accepted somewhere for publication, but also, when his posts fill up with others offering their congratulations, there also Steven appears, thanking them and commenting with care upon almost every message.
Many of us have come to see him as a mentor, an opinion leader, and a beacon showing the way to what is possible for the hard-working and focused short story writer. When I first became familiar with his name last year, I thought that only one thing was missing - Steven’s stories were appearing all over the place, often at a rate difficult to track. If one wanted to read more than one or two, it seemed as though one would have to subscribe to a dozen magazines or follow fifty websites. What Steven needed was a collection - a ‘port of call’ for admirers.
And so Steven and I quickly got to work and produced Sand, his first short story anthology. Here’s what was written about it back in February, and what follows is a summary of some of the rave reviews that have been written since:
SAND: A Collection of Short Stories by Steve Carr
From eerie horror to human tragedy, from biting science fiction to unearthly fantasy, from realistic human drama to quirky surrealism, there seems to be no type of short story to which Steve Carr cannot turn his hand - gripping his readers all the way.
Soldier, sailor, journalist, student, counsellor, actor, playwright, director, theatrical producer, traveler, photographer, animal lover, writer of short stories - these are just a few of the titles Steve Carr has had attached to him over the years. The last title, writer of short stories, is his newest, and began in June of 2016 when he submitted his first short story - after years of writing nothing at all - to a publication where it was immediately accepted.
Less than two years later he has had over 130 short stories in a half dozen different genres published in print magazines, e-zines, anthologies and literary journals. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and won several short story competitions.
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, he now lives in Richmond, Virginia where he writes full time.
SAND is his first collection of short stories.
Outstanding. One stunning story after another. Atmosphere in buckets. I recommend this. Some of the stories are truly breathtaking in conception and are as stunning as writing can get - thus the five stars.
Intriguing, imaginative and wholly compelling, the stories in this book are captivating. A master of the art of story telling, Steve Carr is an incredibly clever author who creates fascinating mini worlds within the pages of a book.
It didn’t take long to read this book...I couldn’t put it down! Beautifully written short stories ranging from chilling horror to tender love stories. Whether you think you like a genre or not, you’ll like it when Steve Carr writes it.
Steve Carr’s first collection of short stories is fantastic. His work is intense, reaching into the reader’s head and twisting emotions, shattering logic and reason. The first story Tenderloin is—pun intended—a punch in the gut, as the reader sees the grittiness of the setting and feels the coiled tension in the main character, a veteran of the Iraq War. With journalistic expertise, Carr displays monstrous humanity in a brevity of words, as in The Saguaro Two Step, in which the woman wins the loot in the end, and exposes desperation, as in The Festival of The Cull, wherein Shamina can no longer vote on who is to be terminated. Reality bends as one ventures further into the book, as in the self-explanatory The Girl in a Mason Jar, gets fishy in Strange Water, and disappears in When Wizards Sing, where animals and men blend. The stories are diverse, with main characters of various genders, sexual orientations, ages, cultures, and even species. The book ends with stories of the afterlife on a never-ending train ride for incorrigibles, a man’s struggle for gravity, and the misplaced hope of a senior citizen. Definitely a must-read!
A fantastic read. Absolutely no filler in this book. Every story holds its own. Definitely glad I bought this. Five stars, all deserved.
Outstanding work. Some of the most perceptive and eloquent writing I've read in quite a long life. I very rarely give fives stars for anything. This book overwhelmed my resistance.
Steve Carr is one of those rare writers who has a very specific feel to his writing. His writing is sometimes dark and frequently very beautiful, which I feel is always a great combination (when executed well, which Mr. Carr's does). His descriptions are paintings for the senses and he has an uncanny ability to find that just perfect word to color his stories in just the right light. As I'm writing this, I can't flip back and verify the titles, but I'll reference a few of my favorites and hope I remember the titles correctly (apologies if I botch them). 'The Tale of the Costume Maker,' was my favorite story in this. I think mostly it was the creativity and imagination that went into it that really resonated with me. It's the type of story that people read and ask, 'My god man, how do you think of this stuff?' Which the author just shrugs and says, 'I have no idea.' Wherever this gem came from, it is truly one of my favorite short stories I've ever read. I could equally talk about 'The Snow Mother,' and how it tells a story that is completely unique to any other I've ever read, and yet will resonate with so many readers who know what longing feels like. And then there are stories like 'The Missouri River Story,' where I'm not sure if the author was trying to garner an emotional response from me, but he definitely managed to do so. (I'd say more, but spoilers). And there are so many more wonderfully dark and beautiful tales in this collection. I heard one reader describe it like watching a season of Dark Mirror, and I believe that's a fitting description. This book will have you questioning reality, itching to turn the page, and wishing there were more when you reach the back cover. Highly highly highly recommend. Thank you for a wonderful read, Mr. Carr.
The characters that populate the stories in SAND have stayed with me in the few days that have passed since I finished reading. People have secrets, in these stories--the man who wakes up bloodied and bruised with money in his pocket but no memory of how or why, the married man who's charmed by a handsome young man sharing his bench. Characters have fathomless wells of loneliness. A restless and lonely veteran watching his fellow humans in his ugly and dangerous neighborhood, a boy who lives along the river ignored by his family and the world, a woman who lost a baby seeing animals form in the swirling snow, a man sharing memories with a corpse. There is so much truth and beauty in these stories. The settings are simple and visceral and beautifully described. Steve Carr has a unique story-telling style that is somehow both simple and complex, and always engaging.
Carr’s stories creep into your soul with gentle questions about the human condition. Don’t we all deserve love? What are we willing to do to find meaning in our quiet ordinary lives? There’s a fine-tuned melancholy in this collection. In a few sentences, Carr builds vivid scenes with distinct characters, dipping the reader in and out of magic, mystery and heartache in a matter of pages. Each story hovers between reality and the unknown. Each story was quick but brimming with emotion. It’s difficult to choose, but my favorites included The Big Wish for its Shirley Jackson vibe and Noise for feeling like an ode to Flannery O’Connor. I could see Opulence as a Black Mirror episode – oh, the vanity! And while Girl in a Mason Jar could be read as pure fantasy, I appreciated the metaphor that women aren’t trapped by glass ceilings, but glass jars and tin lids with holes just big enough to breath through. The collection even includes eerie literary horror with Strange Water and Hard Knocks. Makes me rethink stepping in the lake this summer! The closing story Dancing the Boardwalk reads like a touching clarinet solo on loneliness. Fantastic collection I kept in my purse for long carpool waits and those few minutes I brew my cup of tea each morning. This author is on my watchlist – I can’t wait for another short story collection.
Sometimes you read a book and it touches you and you are never the same again. I can’t guarantee it will happen to you when you read 'Sand' but I can tell you it happened to me. There is sure to be someone you know, a family member, a neighbor, someone you’ve worked with, someone you’ve loved, a person or a place you’ve dreamed about in this amazing collection of thirty stories that pull you in and make you cry, love, hurt, and especially think. About perspectives. And how small the difference between real and make believe really is. I was fortunate. I received a signed copy of Sand from the author. From now on when you hear the name Steven Carr you will think— he did it again. He wrote another great story.
As a reader following Steve Carr's writing career, I longed for the day when his stories would be published in one volume. I bought this collection and have enjoyed the variety of his stories. The title story, 'Sand,' is a beautifully written, poignant story of loneliness. I also enjoyed 'The Island of Women' and my most favorite is 'Cry Me a River.' Carr's stories are silk threads woven in a tapestry of master storytelling. I highly recommend this book for readers who love short stories.
You can get your own copy of this outstanding collection in various formats including Kindle, by visiting here.
Enjoy, and feel free to leave a review of your own.