Comments from Writers and Editors
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     The voices of Terry Dalrymple, Jerry Craven and Andrew Geyer blend within and across these excellent stories to produce the satisfying effect of a finely crafted novel. In “Sandjack Carson and the Schoolmarm,” the opening story, Paul Gruffyn Beaty, the narrator, promises what the book delivers, “though the telling be difficult and fraught with guilt and blood.” There is guilt and blood aplenty. But what follows is more, a tapestry of legend and lore, myth and romance in this chronicle of love and loss, family and friendship, failure and redemption. Here characters from the pioneer past and the chaotic present are haunted by an ancient, elusive code and surrounded by the beauty and brutality that is the eternal landscape of rural Texas. Dancing on Barbed Wire is an innovative saga, a marvelous achievement.
           —Phillip Gardner, author of Available Light

     With jaggedly barbed wit, these stories of likable, flawed folks from small-town Texas will make you laugh out loud—until they make you cry—when they pivot on the lyrical magic of language and the fathomless weavings of destiny in the characters’ lives. Along the way you’ll discover that you, like these characters, have been dancing on barbed wire.
            —Lynn Hoggard, author of Motherland: Stories and Poems of Louisiana

     Forget about Texas. Forget about “short stories.” These tales could take place in Maine or Alaska, Minnesota or Alabama. They’re about human beings doing the best they can to figure things out. Messrs Dalrymple, Craven, and Geyer have a finger on the pulse, a stethoscope to the heart, in Dancing on Barbed Wire, whether it be traditional-length story, flash fiction, or novella. 
         —George Singleton, author of Calloustown and 6 other story collections.

     These narratives, written by three of Texas’ finest living fiction writers, crisscross the state, revealing its rugged charm. The characters you’ll meet in this book are some real pieces of work—from bastards to drunks to feral cat wranglers—but in each of them, we find flashes of redemption, beauty, and grace. Craven, Dalrymple and Geyer show the power of artistic collaboration and challenge the notion of the solitary writer. The result is a multifaceted, engaging, and real collection of short fiction that captures the complexity of contemporary life in Texas. Dancing on Barbed Wire is a triumph!
           —Katie Hoerth, Editor-in-chief, Lamar University Literary Press and author of The Lost Chronicles of Slue Foot Sue

     The stories are so exquisitely crafted and ingeniously interconnected that they appear to be unrehearsed, spontaneous tales, a delight for readers and a despair for critics eager to pounce on any disqualifying faults. There is none. 
            —Harold Raley, author of Lost River Anthology and Louisiana Rogue

     Co-authors Terry Dalrymple, Jerry Craven and Andrew Geyer deliver the excitement promised in the title and then some as they propel the reader through 171 pages of love, lust, betrayal and redemption.  The sixteen interlocked narratives move at a clip through time and space, from the Civil War to the present, from sun-scorched brush country to the lush and sometimes lethal Piney Woods.  Although readers may detect shades of Hawthorne and Faulkner in the haunted houses, serial characters, disembodied voices and rattling family skeletons appearing in these stories, their ethos is distinctly Texan, complete with fields of swaying bluebonnets, sprawling ranches, a champion roping horse and plenty of three-alarm chile.  The authors deftly sidestep stereotypes, however, instead showcasing such unexpected characters as a cowboy who hates cattle, a parrot that curses mailmen, and a Hill Country farmer who prays to the Roman goddess Fortuna.  Reading this story cycle is like doing a jigsaw puzzle--there's no mistaking the satisfaction of snapping that final piece into place and admiring the master narrative that suddenly emerges.  Bravo! 
          —Carol Coffee Reposa, 2018 Texas Poet Laureate and author of Underground Musiciana

     Dalrymple, Craven, and Geyer conspire wonderfully to illustrate the many faces of story telling. Though complex in form, the core of this collection is an illustration in itself of excellence in the craft of fiction. The book’s central theme is love, loss, and lust, and these authors “dancing on barb wire” never slip, never fall, and  they always entertain. They convince and make the reader believe, the crucial test of art. The myriad ways in which a story can be told is their subject, and like all things human the way of telling is the way of truth.
           —Gerald Duff, author of Nashville Burning, Playing Custer, and other novels

     This clever adaptation of the short-story cycle is like a weaving where characters pass first as warp—setting the stage, then weft—elaborating their histories and motives. The reader meets again a character from a previous story, with more revelation through widening circumstances. Texas folk, mostly rural or small-town, of Southeast and Southwest Texas stomp and holler, suffer, try to explain themselves to others, to find in the end they only need to explain themselves to themselves. It’s an added bonus that the three authors are longtime friends, acting through an art form as though they were standing together under a mesquite tree, drinking beer, finishing each other’s sentences.
           —Jan Seale,Texas Poet Laureate, 2012, author of Ordinary Charms

       For over two decades, I have followed, with keen interest and deep respect, the distinguished fiction of Jerry Craven, Terry Dalrymple, and Andrew Geyer.  In Dancing on Barbed Wire, the three authors join their considerable talents to create a cutting-edge "anthology" of twelve short stories, three pieces of flash fiction, and a novella, all of which are intricately linked by character, plot, setting (Texas), theme, imagery, and style.  None of the authors is identified in the text of the book.  The three authors merge their individual voices so seamlessly into a single "new voice" that it is impossible for me to identify "who" writes "what," despite my longtime familiarity with the fiction of all three. The deft manipulation of literary voice which characterizes this breakthrough work of fiction is stunningly original and executed with consummate literary skill.
           —Larry D. Thomas, 2008 Texas Poet Laureate and Member of the Texas Institute of Letters

     Dancing on a Barbed Wire is like nothing you’ve ever seen before in print. The closest analogies are in film—the works of Terrence Malick—and, in television,—True Detective and The Wire. Nonlinear, threaded, thematically related, and revisiting characters and /or the descendants of characters, the three authors and the editor of the collection have created a world much more like the real world than most fiction. Readers will be hungry to devour the iterations of intertwined stories and will be rewarded with a realistic, deeply human and touching end—and, perhaps, continuance—to stories that begin as early as 1861 and conclude in present-day. Dancing on Barbed Wire is addictive, so make some popcorn and get comfortable, because you won’t want to stop reading until the last word.
—Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, Director, The Red Earth MFA in Creative Writing; 2017-18 Oklahoma State Poet Laureate

       Dancing on Barbed Wire is a wild, rollicking ride through some of the most imaginative fictional landscapes ever encountered.  As intricate as a villanelle and yet filled with crazy and curious characters fiercely pursuing lost dreams and misplaced obsessions, this book will delight readers with both its quirky scenes and depth of passion.  The trio of talented authors have created a story cycle of sixteen unforgettable tales that will pull readers in on the first page and leave them longing for more on the last page.
           —Dan Williams, author of Past Purgatory and Director of TCU Press

      This literary experiment by three long-time friends and collaborators makes for a delightful journey. The book is comprised of interlocked stories that may be enjoyed as individual fictions, some comic, some deadly serious, some edging into the mystic; but the overall effect is complex, entertaining, frequently surprising, and always thought-provoking.
           —Richard Moseley, Fiction Editor, Amarillo Bay  

       Three friends, all accomplished Texas authors, sat by a campfire and dreamt up a book which is like nothing you’ve ever read. “A single soul in two bodies” Aristotle called friendship. Dancing on Barbed Wire is composed by three storytellers so in harmony with one another and their material that it feels like the work of a single soul, in token of which the tales are unattributed.
       The book is ordered on a plan as complex as a sestina or the quilt of a math whiz.  It stitches over lives, families, decades, and a stretch of the Lone Star State the authors know intimately, bounded by the hill country, desert plains, and Austin. There is lore topographical, agricultural and pastoral, recurring Wagnerian leitmotifs, family sagas working themselves out over years, lives that collide and connect. Characters grow familiar, change, are etched deeper, becoming ever more themselves.  The book evokes cowboy songs, love spoiled and redeemed, the damage wrought by shortcomings, the entanglements of property, sex, family secrets, generations at odds. It gives us both the complaints and sweetness of the tough, persuasively conveying the points of view of children, adolescents, the middle-aged, the thoroughly aged.  It has drama and suspense.  
       Though the tales are rooted in realities as plain as dry pastures and dead dogs, there are incursions of the magical. The effect is rich, novelistic, and not wanting for unity, though each contribution stands assertively on its own. The book winds up in a novella—jointly written, of course—that draws the collection’s themes and people together, a finale that is satisfying, even optimistic, yet too honest to be called simply a happy ending.
       The authors’ yarn-spinning dexterity and commitment to their complicated enterprise will leave you admiring their achievement, this monument to a loved place, the human beings who occupy it, and the warm force of friendship that fuels it all.
           —Robert Wexelblatt, author of Life in the Temperate Zone and The Artist Wears Rough Clothing

       In this inventive collection, Jerry Craven, Andrew Geyer, and Terry Dalrymple weave together coherent, appealing stories that allow readers to focus on the intertwined narratives and to engage in untangling the mystery of which accomplished writer contributed the particular story. Tales of Texas, bastards, cats, parrots, bluebonnets, dogs, and love lost and found are woven together with barbed wire prose in this innovative approach to story-telling.
—Mark Busby, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English, Texas State University, San Marcos; Past President, Texas Institute of Letters
Italy, Texas