Review: Shenanigans!

Joseph Michael Owens
100 pages
5 ½” x 8 ½” perfect-bound trade paperback
ISBN 978–0983553014
First Edition
Grey Sparrow Press
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Review copy: PDF version
Available in paperback HERE
Available in hardcover HERE
Review originally published on 1/5/15

Joseph Owens has an incredible talent for taking daily routines and events and making them comic and interesting in his collection of short stories, Shenanigans!. He takes you on a journey of emotions, from humor to accomplishment to sorrow, eliciting from you an understanding of a newly found importance of the mundane. He makes the telling of clipping your dog’s too-long toenails interesting. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to read “We Always Trust Each Other, Except for When We Don’t.”

Owens writes to you as if you are his inner journal, looking through his eyes and capturing every minute detail. I feel this work is best summed up in his own words:

There is a sense of letting go that seems scary at first but actually feels good and is probably altogether necessary, an almost inviting sense that wants to teach you a deeper meaning of what it means to be a real person who is alive and not alone. (from The Year That Was … and Was Not, p. 89).

Owens makes the little events in life worth reading and shows how even the most mundane day has real purpose and effect in our lives. He is relatable in more ways than just his style and subject matter, and in this his influence from Nicholson Baker is very evident. I highly suggest this if you’re looking to get a new perspective on your day-to-day life. I don’t think you’ll ever look at microwaving coffee the same again.