Fiction. SMALL ECONOMIES's short stories and flash fictions are economical in narration but comprehensive in their suggestion of the past, present, and future lives of their characters. The moments they contain are set against the background of diverse public spaces: the institutions, stores, factories, restaurants, even the street corners where people must come together and choose to serve, reject, or compete against one another. Palen writes with a poet's sensitivity to language and the physical, as well as empathy for all of his characters. The stories convey his clear conception of the sometimes devastating outcomes produced by the exchanges, material and intangible, people make and fail to make.
"John Palen brings his skill as a poet to this concisely elegant fiction collection, making every word count. If it is given that cruelty is part of human experience, so are unexpected acts of kindness, and Palen's characters compel us with both, whether in a nursing home, a chemical plant, or on 'Busker's Corner.'"—Gaynell Gavin
John Palen grew up in small towns in southwest Missouri and attended Washington University in St. Louis, where he was a student of Donald Finkel. His poems have been published in literary magazines since the late 1960s. Recent work has appeared in Bluestem, MacNeese Review, Main Street Rag, Delmarva Review, and upstreet. Mayapple Press published Open Communion: New and Selected Poems in 2005, SMALL ECONOMIES in 2012, and DISTANT MUSIC in 2017. After a 45-year career as a journalist and journalism educator, Palen lives in retirement in central Illinois.
Author City: IL USA