PRAISE FOR FROM THE CROOKED TIMBER
Okla Elliott’s new story collection has a terrific variety of characters—all of them credible, sympathetic, and complex, presented in Elliott’s lean, compelling, breezy style. Elliott has a sharp perception of character and a balanced wisdom about how his characters think and feel. He is a fine craftsman, and each story here is a pleasure to read and to contemplate.
— Thomas E. Kennedy, best-selling author of In the Company of Angels
In the gritty, tough-minded, open-hearted stories of From the Crooked Timber, Okla Elliott explores lives of quiet desperation, and sometimes stolen consolations, beneath the crush of instant-access, celebrity-culture media. With broken families and fractured relationships of the kinds, Elliott lays bare ever more the rule than the exception, an imagination such as his is one the culture would do well to hear.
— Jonathan Monroe, author of Demosthenes’ Legacy and Professor of Comparative Literature at Cornell University
The seeming ease and clarity of the prose—the hardest thing to achieve in writing of any kind—makes many appearances.
— Franz Wright, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Kindertotenwald
Elliott’s forceful and unpredictable stories speak compellingly of love thwarted, connections not pursued, or severed quickly before they can deepen. Elliott’s honesty and his insight into human desires, the passions that hold humans hostage, life tumbling from one experience to another, are darkly luminous. Bleakly beautiful.
— Duff Brenna, author of Too Cool (a New York Times Notable Book)
Okla Elliott’s work will thrill you. His characters are as real as your own family . . . Elliott writes as if death and loss can be comic, and in his hands, they are—ruefully comic.
— Kelly Cherry, three-time winner of the PEN/Syndicated Fiction Award
The stories in Okla Elliott’s From the Crooked Timber are gritty and hard-edged in all the right ways. These are stories about people who are put-upon, either by their own missteps or circumstances beyond their control—stories about what it takes to keep placing one foot in front of the other. The tender longing on the underside of want is all through these pages. Elliott’s prose is lean and stark but somehow suffused with an evocation of how life, given a little more this or that, could very well be.
— Lee Martin, Pulitzer Prize-finalist author of The Bright Forever
What so galvanizes me about Okla Elliott’s prickly fiction is his generous sympathy for and his cold-eyed honesty about the underclass, those at the margins for whom the American Dream is as much an elaborate hoax as it is a cruel joke. His are people sand-bagged by their hope, not to mention by their thirst for booze and hunger for bad love. Make room by the campfire, William Gay and Dale Ray Phillips and Chris Offutt and Robert Olmstead. Mr. Elliott has stories to burn and homey truths to brood about.
— Lee K. Abbott, author of All Things, All at Once: New and Selected Stories