The women are complex and wise, but hemmed in by strong events, and the men they love are complex and flawed. Driving lessons, young love, prom night, the Vietnam war; a boy who pees under a teacher’s desk, a man who shoots mistletoe down from the oak trees; quiet battles over garden flamingoes and wedding cake; rape and domination; broken cups and broken marriages. The women want the ideal world at the same time that they know the world is fallen. Love in such a world is essential but almost impossible, and all the more worth aspiring to.
The 26 stories in Country Music read 20th midcentury history through as many lenses as a bee’s eye. The title story would do Willy Nelson proud though my favorite is “Red Tiger,” whose golden eyes hunt/haunt us all. What a fabulous collection—it should become required reading in every American Studies program! Country Music is enormously entertaining, an impressive offering of fiction.
L. Shapley Bassen, author of Summer of the Long Knives Lives
What an engaging mixture of distinctive atmosphere, fluid prose, social insight (without condescension), and characterization the wonderful stories of Country Music are. I set aside an hour at work to read one or two and wound up taking the day off to read them all! We hear the evocative sound of Miriam Kotzin, gifted poet, in lines like this from the title story: “We got through mud-time just fine, and all through the spring we watched the little leaves unfold and the blue wash back into the sky.” Or how about this sample of insight into human nature from “Devotional”: “I have listened to Desirée as her marriage fell to pieces, and her revenge for having received my sympathy continues to play itself out in this small room.” The stories of Country Music contain a set of perfectly written voices as original as I have ever listened to in fiction: this collection is absolutely recommended reading!
Lee Slonimsky, author of Bermuda Gold,
co-author (with Carol Goodman) of the Black Swan Rising trilogy
Miriam Kotzin is a prodigiously gifted writer (as her latest collection of stories Country Music amply demonstrates} whose work resonates in a remarkable number of genres—novels, poetry, stories, criticism, flash fiction, etc. In Country Music all her gifts, from her darkly hilarious satire to the way she can simply and lastingly touch our heart, are there for us to once again cherish. Miriam Kotzin is indisputably one of are country's most important women of letters"
Richard Burgin, editor of Boulevard, author of Don't Think.
In Country Music, Miriam Kotzin presents a whole world: Driving lessons, young love, prom night, the Vietnam war; a boy who pees under a teacher’s desk, a man who shoots mistletoe down from the oak trees; quiet battles over garden flamingoes and wedding cake; rape and domination; broken cups and broken marriages. The women are complex and wise, but hemmed in by strong events, and the men they love are complex and flawed. The women want the ideal world at the same time that they know the world is fallen. With its precise language, engaging characters, humor, and suspenseful action, Country Music is particularly notable for its heart and truth. Love in such a world is essential but almost impossible, and all the more worth aspiring to.
Cezarija Abartis, author of Nice Girls and Other Stories
The twenty-six stories in Miriam Kotzin’s stellar collection, Country Music, range wide and deep in their deft and piercing exploration of emotion, relationships and characters in the crucibles of love, rivalry and strained friendships. The style is compressed and dynamic, narratives tightly structured and the language shaped to the narrator’s origins, place and sensibility. Nothing is wasted, with characters portrayed—and occasionally betrayed—by every sentence thought or spoken, every choice made or avoided. She knows her people and after a while you know them too, and then the face looks awfully familiar indeed. In their individuality, again and again, these stories and their characters tap the vein of the universal.
Miriam N. Kotzin is Professor of English at Drexel University where she teaches creative writing and literature. She was the founding director of the Certificate Program in Writing and Publishing. Country Music joins her collection of flash fiction, Just Desserts (Star Cloud Press 2010), a novel, The Real Deal (Brick House Press 2012), and five collections of poetry Debris Field (David Robert Books 2017), The Body’s Bride (David Robert Books 2013), Taking Stock (Star Cloud Press 2010), Weights & Measures (Star Cloud Press 2009), and Reclaiming the Dead (New American Press 2008),. Her poetry received six nominations for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has been published widely in such places as Shenandoah, Boulevard, Eclectica, The Tower Journal, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. She is founding editor of Per Contra and has been a contributing editor of Boulevard since its inception.