How Far I’ve Come by Kim Magowan, review by Dan Crawley
Kim Magowan’s How Far I’ve Come (Gold Wake Press, 2022) is a collection of flash fictions and a few longer works that brought me joy while I read. Yes, I smiled with delight, finding myself smiling time after time, even though many of the stories delve deep in what you wouldn’t consider very cheerful subjects: dysfunctional friendships, the plagues of heartache and loneliness, infidelity, family strife. But Magowan knows how to steer amid the flotsam of such human wreckage. All by the use of her masterful writing that elicits awe and breaks your heart and sometimes makes you laugh out loud, frequently all at the same time.
And so many perfect lines showcase Magowan’s distinctive voice! Where to start? “But my step-daughter, wiry and sharp-edged as a twisty tie,….”; “Well, that statement is a torpedo that hits the aerodynamic blimp of me. I’m torn pieces of gray siding and swirling engine parts.”; “Monica was the metaphoric bike whose handles he had flown over”; and I can go on with an abundance of other uniquely written descriptions and dialogue in this collection. How Magowan sees the world, a myriad of relationships. Her writing engages and inspires.
Then there are stories so inventive in form, revealing characters in a vibrant manner: “Worksheet: Conditional Verbs,” “Now You Know Your ABCs,” “Time Tested”, “Cancel Culture,” and, of course, the originality of “Madlib” is evident to all. Perfection, never to be replicated. An affecting piece of imagination that stuns the heart.
How Far I’ve Come leaves the reader full of admiration for Magowan’s talent. And the voices, the wit, of her characters! I can see myself at a party with all of them, perhaps sipping on sangria, wandering from one small group to another, rapt with anticipation about what could possibly happen next.
Dan Crawley is the author of the novella Straight Down the Road (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2019) and the short story collection The Wind, It Swirls (Cowboy Jamboree Press, 2021). His writing appears in a number of journals and anthologies, including JMWW, Lost Balloon, Tiny Molecules, and Atticus Review. His work has been nominated for Best Small Fictions, Best of the Net, and the Pushcart Prize.