Compassion and empathy are words that are thrown around a lot these days, especially in the book world, as guiding lights that authors should all aspire to follow. While those qualities are certainly important, on their own they’re just empty signals that show us very little about humanity and ourselves. There’s another quality that I personally feel is more important; honesty. It’s precisely this quality that shines the brightest in Theresa Griffin Kennedy’s story collection Burnside Field Lizard and Selected Stories. She looks unashamedly, unapologetically, almost clinically on their vices as well as bitter resentments and conflicted self-destructive desires. The cumulative effect is a level of pathos and verisimilitude that is touching and beautifully human. With these stories Theresa Griffin Kennedy has shown herself to be a writer of exceptional talent, clarity and literary maturity.
~Tom Hansen, author of American Junkie.
With these stories Theresa Griffin Kennedy has shown herself to be a writer of exceptional talent, clarity and literary maturity.” —Tom Hansen, author of American Junkie “Theresa Griffin Kennedy’s gothic tone is matched by her slow suspense in telling these sad, humorous and honest tales.” —Amy Temple Harper, author of Cramped Uptown “Theresa Griffin Kennedy’s small collection, Burnside Field Lizard and Selected Stories, explores the seamy and sordid underbelly of Portland’s dark side. Kennedy’s Portland is wet, dreary, and its inhabitants are broken; these characters are poor, struggling, addicted, angry, defenseless and sometimes mentally ill. Yet, there is a ribbon of the thinnest hope that threads through these stories and sometimes redemption is just hidden on the horizon. Deftly done, Kennedy flexes her storytelling muscle here and lucky for us!
~Dianah Hughley, Powell’s City of Books.
Theresa Griffin Kennedy’s gothic tone is matched by her slow suspense in telling these sad, humorous and honest tales.
~Amy Temple Harper, author of Cramped Uptown.
There are no regular people; there are no special people; yet everyone feels both regular and special, therefore they have value--a particular place or niche--in Theresa Griffin Kennedy's fictionalized Portland. Burnside Field Lizard and Selected Stories, her new collection from Oregon Greystone Press, is comprised of five very meaty stories; full of the little details that make fiction ring true, as in the title story where, for instance, Kennedy describes with verve the trash that happens to litter a vacant lot. The danger with this kind of attention to detail is that it can sometimes slow stories down. If wielded ineffectively, the reader can begin to feel that the author has filled their narration with laundry lists, merely lists of things. Kennedy avoids this pitfall by describing with style, thereby bringing us deeper into the Portland that she wants to show us. A set of "discarded bra and panties," do not just "lay there," they are "twist[ed] in the dirt...becoming one with the weeds." Kennedy's artful descriptive flourishes place us squarely in her characters' world. And oh, what a strange, depraved world it is! Time and place play important roles in these stories, and for those of us who remember the Portland of the bad old days, her portrayal is dead on. There are no ordinary readers, only hard earned ones. Burnside Field Lizard is worth the time.
~J De Salvo, author, poet, and publisher of The Bicycle Review and Oakland Review.