If you haven’t heard of Woody Skinner, I suggest you familiarize yourself with him. He’s a Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award winner whose work has appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, Booth, The Carolina Quarterly, Mid-American Review, and more.
I recently had the pleasure of making Skinner’s acquaintance. After hearing his backstory and learning about his writing journey and successes, I felt inspired to read his short story collection called A Thousand Distant Radios.
The collection includes stories about an ill-fated marlin dumped into an extravagant couple’s backyard pool, a charismatic knife salesman traveling through a fanatical North American landscape, a young man in rural Arkansas who nestles into a satellite dish, and a grandfather’s body surrounded by oddments of a legendary Americana. Each story is singularly imaginative, portraying characters who are both unique and familiar, while focusing upon the disparate existences within “America.”
Put simply: I loved it.
I loved it because the book is extremely well written. Skinner obviously has a fantastic grasp of structure, word choice, pacing, and character. However, many “literary” authors tout these same skills. I loved it for an entirely different reason.
What sets Skinner apart from his literary peers is the sheer quirkiness of his stories. They zig every single time you think they are going to zag. Dare I say it, they’re frankly a little weird, which is in all honestly very high praise. I’ll heap one more compliment upon the previous: A Thousand Distant Radios comes within a a hair’s breath of being genre writing.
Let me name a few other literary authors who flirt dangerously with genre: Annie Proulx, Michael Chabon, Paul Auster, Tobias Wolff, and Raymond Carver. Oh, by the way, these are also some of my favorite writers. As I read A Thousand Distant Radios, I couldn’t help but feel that Skinner fits perfectly into this group of luminaries.
Woody Skinner is a relatively young writer with many, many years of excellence ahead of him. I cannot wait to read more of his work. Purchase your copy of A Thousand Distant Radios at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
“…a hair’s breadth of genre writing”? Well, I’m going to have to read “A Thousand Distant Radios.” High praise from a master at storytelling himself.