Cream of Kohlrabi
by Floyd Skloot
$16.95 – $24.95
Format: $16.95 Paperback; $24.95 Clothbound
— Virginia Allen, The Bloomsbury Review
“Poet, essayist, and novelist Floyd Skloot creates sixteen extraordinary short stories that cover the gamut of the human experience. Painful and poignant, several of these stories deal with age and the loss of memory.… Beautifully written and powerful, Skloot’s collection of stories will reaffirm faith in the human spirit. ”
— Gary Katz, The Jewish Book Council
Named by The Oregonian as One of the Top 10 Northwest Books of 2011
Skloot is so good that you could just buy this for the first seven stories and their wonderful take on old age, dementia, being stuck away from the family.
— Lolita Lark, RALPH Mag
[T]hese sixteen stories, whose characters jump off the page, achingly capture longing, illness, aging, and the various heart-strung conundrums of family. Human frailty and the omnipresent warp of the past’s languishing conclusions are palpably, expertly rendered. This is fiction written with great clarity, humor, nimble grace and truth.
— Sally Molini, Cerise Press
Skloot knows suffering, real suffering, first hand, and it’s evident in his graceful and understated writing. These stories are poignant, ingeniously witty; they’re inspiring without dripping literary sap. As you read them, you get the feeling that Skloot has suffered the anguish of his characters, that he and they face terror with compassion, humor, and a poetic sort of bravery.
— Joseph Peschel, The Boston Globe
Also masterful, in every one of these stories, is the author’s portrait of the deteriorating mind. He thrusts us over and over again into a dark, uncomfortable world of looming oblivion, loss of continuity, shifting memory, fading from minute to minute, expertly keeping us in the here-and-now of each character’s experience.
— Damian Kilby, The Oregonian
In this breathtaking collection of sixteen intimate stories by award-winning poet, novelist, and memoirist Skloot (The Wink of Zenith), characters struggle with their failing bodies and minds—and the ensuing loss of dignity—while demonstrating their will to live. Skloot’s humane approach reveals the truth of each character’s condition as well as the challenges of everyday life for the sick and aging—all to haunting and powerful effect. In “Plans,” a dying man tries to make future plans with his family, especially attending an opening night Mariners vs. Red Sox game in Seattle. In “The Tour”, a mother in a nursing home looks forward to a trip to Fire Island with her daughter and leaves herself small notes in order to jog her memory: “Had she greeted him? It was too awful, this failure to know what was happening in her life. If you can’t remember, Esther thought, you can’t think. And if you can’t think, you aren’t living.” Skloot’s subtle, vividly descriptive stories allow his characters glimmers of hope and strength amidst the pain. Readers can’t help but be moved.
— Publishers Weekly starred review
Poet, essayist, storyteller, and human-insight zen master Skloot (The Wink of the Zenith, 2008; A World of Light, 2005) assembles 16 stories that portray families as seen through the eyes of people experiencing a variety of life challenges. Whether it is conveyed through the dimming eyes of a dying man, or via a father whose son’s promising athletic career is suddenly truncated, or by the reflections of a man recalling his first love, Skloot’s message is the same. Family can be a blessing or a curse, or a blessing and a curse, sequentially or simultaneously. It’s hard to imagine that there isn’t a story here in which anyone might see his or her own family—so vivid is Skloot’s intuitiveness, so rich his depiction of the hold the blood bond exerts, and so tenderly does he treat fragile human relationships. Despite the occasional rocky paths his families must take, Skloot’s collection offers smart and cozy reading at its best.
— Donna Chavez, Booklist
Floyd Skloot’s new book gathers sixteen stories that combine unsentimental comedy and forceful emotion. As in his award- winning poetry and memoirs, Skloot’s fiction shows how individual people, families, and communities face the starkest of challenges, including bodily maladies, the most harrowing of which often come with aging. Yet alienating experience can lead to moments of powerful intimacy, as dark times are lit by sudden incursions of love and hope, and a yearning for community summons poignant expression.
“This is a brave, luminous, searingly unswerving vision of the life that exists so powerfully in those persistent dreams we have for ourselves, good and bad—those secret passions that seem strong enough to survive us, and that endure all the way out to the end of our lives. The people in these stories are palpable, so much so that somehow the language on the page disappears, and you feel as if the character you are reading about might walk into the room and interrupt you. And so each story takes you by storm—you read because you can’t stop. Floyd Skloot has a great poet’s eye for detail, and a gifted story-teller’s skill at delivering the contexts that make those details shimmer. These stories are not only brilliant, they are necessary.”—Richard Bausch, author of Peace, and winner of the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story
“Floyd Skloot’s unerringly vivid writing makes this collection of sixteen marvelously distinct stories a pleasurable read from first page to last. He is a writer to cherish, and his worlds within worlds are exemplars of why we read fiction. Cream of Kohlrabi is not only a lovely aesthetic experience, sentence to sentence, but is also a series of genuinely moving sojourns into the minds, hearts and lives of others.” —Katharine Weber, author of The Memory Of All That