Sacred Smokes — wonderful review.
This amazing review of Sacred Smokes was published in today’s Chicago Tribune, a newspaper I grew up with. After reading, it took me a few minutes to pull myself together. Wow.
Still on sale over at Amazon or find it wherever you normally get your books.
I’m still moved. Thank you.
Many thanks to Toni Jensen over at Waxwing for this review:
“Theodore Van Alst’s debut story collection, Sacred Smokes, weaves humor and sharp, unexpected language through stories of violence on Chicago’s streets. The stories share a common narrator, Teddy, who guides readers through neighborhoods and regional dialect, through gang affiliations and the intricate dynamics of his family. The balance of humor with the aggressive world of the characters is winning. Though this is billed as a story collection, all these coming of age stories hang together to create one, larger portrait — of a place that’s rough and beloved, of Native and Latino and Black kids coming into themselves or not making it through…”
A cool and sweet short piece from Andrea L. Rogers. Thank you!
Dr. Theo Van Alst is cool and smart and ready to fight if he has to. I like this about him and his writing. Sacred Smokes is confidently unapologetic. It smokes in the apartment. It doesn’t do the dishes. Native Lakota kid Theo survives in Chicago and Chicago survives in Dr. Van Alst. Theo has a distinctive voice and you can hear a bit of it in Theodore Van Alst – Reading Fall 2016 where he reads some of “Push It,” a story included towards the end of Sacred Smokes. What I enjoy is how different his work is from a lot of the work I read by native writers. Theo’s work is just Indians being Indians in the world.
My introduction to Theo’s work was in the Summer of 2016, a Fall craft talk in the Low Rez program at IAIA. Craft Talk–“No More Navajo…
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If you ever (and still) called the L the Jackson Park or the Englewood, or the O’Hare or the Ravenswood, ate a Polish on Maxwell Street, ate at a Harold’s, lost someone you loved, gained someone you hated, smelled the subway downtown in August, wished the Sox were on instead of the Cubs (but maybe you were little and still watched the Cubs, ‘cause, baseball), knew that early morning summer air a few blocks from the lake, that air right before it gets humid and the city buzzes to life, thought about those old friends from the neighborhood every now and then (or for real every single damn day), walked by the shelter with the big cross on Wabash and wished you could just eat at Miller’s one time, and you like James Alan MacPherson, or Walter Mosley, or Denis Johnson, or maybe just really good stories well told by someone who makes you feel like you missed that class where they taught excellent writing but this author is going to give you his notes, then buy this Chicago book that illuminates the universal, spend some time On the Nine. Tony Bowers has put together a collection of stories the way you want to read them, the way I love to read them, at your own pace, all so good you can pick up anywhere in the book and read in any direction you want, every one paced and plotted just so, each piece created with heart that beats right out of real places, with real faces, bringing light and joy and pain to all those spaces we grew up to and in and around, our neighborhoods and their stories made real, with love, and with hope.
ready for pre-order: