The Stories of Devil-Girl , Anya Achtenberg
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   The Stories of Devil-Girl - Price: $16.95    

by Anya Achtenberg, ISBN: 978-1-932690-62-0
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Devil-Girl is a storyteller smaller than a stain and larger than life, a mythic figure roaming the globe. Born into Brooklyn housing projects and the nightmares of her immigrant family, she becomes a runaway in the human marketplace of the streets of New York. Accompanied by her sense of outrage and sense of humor, ghosts of the ancestors and her prophetic vision, she moves from silence through rage into deep alliance with the marginalized.

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Biography :

Anya Achtenberg, an award-winning fiction writer as well as poet, has seen her recently completed novel, Prairie Angel, excerpted in Harvard Review under the title More Than The Wind, and her novella The Stories of Devil-Girl published by Modern History Press as well as released on CD. Her second book of poetry, The Stone of Language, was published in 2004 by West End Press (Albuquerque) after being finalist in 5 poetry competitions. Her stories have received awards from Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope: All-Story, New Letters, the Asheville Fiction Writers Workshop, the Raymond Carver Story Contest, and others. Her first book of poetry, I Know What the Small Girl Knew, was published by Holy Cow! Press (MN). She is at work on History Artist, a novel centering in the experience of a Cambodian woman born of an African American father at the moment the bombing of Cambodia by U.S. forces began. She received a Minnesota State Arts Board Individual Artist’s Initiative Grant to work on it in 2008.

She has taught creative writing widely and currently teaches writer’s workshops and classes throughout the country on deepening characterization, the essential elements of story, autobiography and autobiographical fiction, and is the founder and author of Writing for Social Change:Re-Dream a Just World, a series of multi-genre workshops on writing for social change.

She also offers manuscript consultations for fiction writers, poets, essayists and memoirists. Her private clients include a wide range of people geographically, professionally, and in terms of content, genre, and style; clients and former clients are publishing books, stories, essays and poems; winning prizes; completing novels and memoirs; studying in and graduating from MFA programs; and banishing writer’s block.

Book Review :

"The Stories of Devil-Girl" by Anya Achtenberg is Book #1 in the Reflections of America Series of books published by Loving Healing Press. Achtenberg's book fits the series description to a tee, completely embodying the entire statement.

The book is "dedicated to all who were easily discarded, demonized, and widely underestimated." It is explained that the stories are prose fiction with much being autobiographical. A lot of the content is sad and disturbing such as the author stating her first memory is of someone trying to strangle her in her crib when she was a baby.

Achtenberg's style of writing is quite unique and just to give you a feel for her originality here is an excerpt from one of the stories entitled "Pictures": "There are things that even I can't say, Devil-mouth, Devil-tongue, from the dictionary of barb and heat and nakedness. Born in a cab, but I can't get one these days. My harpy cry of `Taxi!' falls flat, as if being born once- in the big old Checker- were enough. One look back at my costume, and most know I am no paying customer. Pouches of pockets swaying open with shadow. Soles of my shoes racing to catch up with my stride. Others raise one arm and the journey swings open the door to its sweet center, but all I can do is turn my back and allow the world its ride." (p. 41)

The entire book is composed of artistic passages such as this one. Each individual story is filled with intensity and depth. Achtenberg's writing is powerful and really commands the reader's attention. I enjoyed the originality and if you are looking for something different, not another "cookie-cutter" book, then "The Stories of Devil-Girl" would definitely be one to try!

(Kam Aures for RebeccasReads)

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Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse
Saffron Dreams
Understanding Middle-Earth: Essays on Tolkien's Middle-Earth
The Blue Fairy and other tales of transcendence

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