Monday, July 13, 2015

Poor Advice, a review

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Poor Advice is a collection of about two dozen short stories by Lou Gaglia. Poor Advice came to my Kindle in a flash following a short email exchange with the author a few weeks back. I first became acquainted with Lou Gaglia when my magazine Umbrella Factory Magazine ran his short story “Little Leagues” in December of 2011.

It has been my experience in the years I've worked as an editor for a small literary magazine that the writers who succeed are the prolific ones. It's also been my experience that writers who are unafraid of the process of publication are the writers we get to read. In Lou Gaglia case, every short story in his Poor Advice has appeared in a literary magazine first. If there is a lesson to take from this writer and this book, it is this: write good fiction, send it out to magazine editors, get rejected, rewrite this good fiction for a better product and repeat the process. This entire collection warrants respect because it is well written, well arranged and it's downright fun.

I get the impression from many of the short stories that locale or settings are very real. Mr. Gaglia uses the well known places such as Carnegie Hall or Long Island trains as backdrops in his stories. It feels like his New York, and places within it, are oftentimes characters themselves. Those who live in New York, or those who even have a perfunctory familiarization with it will no doubt love this collection.

Many of these short stories have a surrealistic or perhaps absurd bent to them. “Tony the Mustache” which is a story told from the point of view of an actual mustache or “The Spy and the Priest” which has a priest named Father Don Rickles certainly illustrates the absurd. Even so, these stories are delightful. The feel of these stories may be likened to the William Kotzwinkle of Elephant Bangs Train or perhaps newer work by Etgar Keret.

But there is something more noteworthy about Poor Advice. I find that the more heartfelt and certainly less humorous stories are fantastically potent. I ran “Little Leagues” in Umbrella Factory Magazine a few years back. At the time I read “Little Leagues” I knew it was a higher caliber story than many I was reading at the submission desk. “Little Leagues” also felt like it could have been my neighborhood growing up. There was a very universal feel to it. When I reread it in Poor Advice I felt the same way. But it wasn't my favorite Gaglia story anymore. “This Is My Montauk” has to be one of the most quiet, beautifully heartbreaking stories I've ever read. It's the story of two guys who live on Long Island and and they go help out a dead friend's mother. It's not a particularly long story. There is more going on in this small space than many novels I've read. Perhaps this is the definition of a good short story writer: a writer who can swing from the very funny to the very serious and still retain a sense of universality.

In our ever quickening pace of daily life, I worry about people losing interest in reading. I worry that the mass produced flavorless corporate fiction is replacing fresh creative voices. I worry that the fresh creative voices are turning to the flavorless corporate fiction to make a living. However, when I read a book like Poor Advice I feel better knowing there are writers like Lou Gaglia. He is a creative voice. He is great writer. I hope he's making a living at this. And I hope you're doing your part by buying a copy of this great book.

Lou Gaglia is the author of Poor Advice (Spring to Mountain Press, 2015). His stories have appeared recently in The Writing Disorder, Per Contra, Eclectica, Pithead Chapel, Referential Magazine, Rappahannock Review, Blue Monday Review, and elsewhere. He teaches in upstate New York after many years as a teacher in New York City and is a long-time T’ai Chi Ch’uan practitioner who still feels like a beginner. Visit him at Contact: Lou Gaglia,

Poor Advice is available through Amazon for the print and Kindle versions, and then there’s Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and Page Foundry for the e-version, or Oyster Books for those who subscribe with them.


Anthony ILacqua holds a Master of Fine Arts of writing at Goddard College. His third novel Warehouses and Rusted Angels is forthcoming  2015. His former novels, Dysphoric Notions (2012) and Undertakers of Rain (2013) are both published through Ring of Fire Publishing.  He currently functions as editor in chief for Umbrella Factory Magazine that he co-founded in 2009. 

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a potent book, will have to pick it up. ~Andrea