Forum / Review of Erika Byrne-Ludwig's story collection: A Cloud in My Hand

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    Mathew Paust
    Sep 21, 12:00am

    A mistake to dismiss the "cloud" you get in this collection of nearly four dozen spellbinding tales from Australian author Erika Byrne-Ludwig as just a quaint poetic metaphor, or maybe a clever reference to the ubiquitous digital clouds we keep hearing about but never see. Of course it’s a metaphor, Byrne-Ludwig's cloud, but “quaint” doesn’t come close to describing the power you’ll find between the covers of A Cloud in My Hand. Not if you've experienced any of the myriad faces ordinary clouds sometimes reveal to us. More intrusive than Joni's “illusions,” these bring thunder and lightning and wind and sleet and hail and horror and death: dark, forbidding miens that lurk behind the clean, happy fluffs we watch breezing across an innocent blue sky on a perfect day.

    [click link to read the rest of it]

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    Erika Byrne-Ludwig
    Sep 21, 11:15am

    Mathew, this is a wonderful review. I liked the way you looked at the clouds in general. You must have read my thoughts. The various moods of the clouds... I was quite thrilled by your analysis. What also struck me is the way you described the voice of the narrator. I think you're right. The mention of Chekov is quite flattering. Many thanks. You've been kind and sharp. Congratulations.

    Best regards


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    eamon byrne
    Sep 21, 12:30pm

    Hi Mathew,

    Can I thank you for your excellent review of Erika's book. You certainly are perceptive and have picked up on many of her good points. My own personal favourite among a great variety is The Tea Tin. By the way, I love your website. By Gad, sir! it is a beauty. You obviously love what you do and it shows. Mr Greenstreet looks quite at home there. Do you indulge yourself also with a fine Havana? Methinks you must, at least in spirit. I will look forward to checking out your future reviews, which I am sure that there will be ample of, seeing there are so many fine writers on fictionaut to comment on.

    Again, all the best.


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    Mathew Paust
    Sep 21, 02:00pm

    Erika and Eamon:

    Fine writing, while obviously a pleasure to read, presents a challenge to the reviewer--me, anyway--to do justice to the artist's work, and your generous feedback reassures me I came close with A Cloud in My Hand.

    Eamon, The Tea Tin also moved me, especially as it brought to mind a true crime I covered as a newspaper reporter decades ago in which the home invaders beat and tortured their victim, who refused to tell them where to find the money they were after. It was found later in a compact case on the kitchen table, a classic "Purloined Letter" example, which tragically led to the death of the victim and, justifiably, to that of her killer, who met his end in Virginia's electric chair. I much prefer Erika's approach to a similar scenario, using the first-person voice to emphasize the irony as a mitigation of its sordid context.

    Thanks again, both of you, for the kind words.

    -- Matt

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