Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg
Paris, France
December 31
Writer, copy editor, translator, travel planner. Head servant to my cat.
A reader, a writer, a fingernail biter, a cat person, a traveller, a cookie inhaler, an immigrant, a dreamer. …And now, self-employed! If you like my blog and if you're looking for sparkling writing, painstaking proofreading, nimble French-English translation, or personalized travel planning, feel free to check out


Alysa Salzberg's Links

Editor’s Pick
MAY 23, 2012 7:06AM

ASH - All (kinds of) Stories Here

Rate: 18 Flag
collected short stories vol 2
Last Friday, I wrote about the one-year blogoversary of the OS Weekend Fiction Club.  A few days later, I finished reading a book by one of its regulars.

Allen “Skipper” Howlett, known here on OS as ASH…, is a hard writer to define – and I mean that in the best way possible.  Whenever you set out to read one of his stories, you have no idea what you’re going to get. In the year or so that I’ve been following him, he’s created everything from a serial novel (Servant of the Scorpion), to short stories of horror, humor, romance, history, philosophy, nostalgia, and mystery.  Howlett is just as skilled at writing about sensual feelings between two adults, or telling a tale of legendary dimensions, as he is taking on the voice of a sarcastic teenager dealing with her family.

Collected Short Stories, Volume 2, is a compilation of some of his best work.  As I’d expected, it’s packed with variety.  Though all of the stories are very different, they’re all well-told, each one enveloping you in its particular ambiance.  

“That’s all fine and good,” many of you may be thinking, “but I’m not big on reading fiction.”   You may also be skeptical that I’m writing this review, since, Collected Short Stories, Volume 2 has been dedicated to me (I feel honored beyond measure), and I even make a sort of cameo appearance in one of the stories.  For the first argument, I’d say, when you consider that this e-book (available on the Kindle and the Kindle reading app for computers), only costs about $5, this could be a good, reasonably priced way to take a chance and try something new. For the second, well, I can’t argue against the fact that you might think I’d be biased – all I can say is, why not discover ASH’s work for yourself and see if I’m right to praise him?

Whatever you’re looking for, and whatever genre you like to read, there’s something for everyone here. The length of the stories is perfect, in my opinion. Each one is just long enough to utterly immerse you in it, and just short enough to be read in a delightful stolen moment.

To check out Collected Short Stories, Volume 2 click here.

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Allen, it was an honor and a pleasure to read this book!
If you’re looking for even more great OS fiction in book form, you should also mosey on over to OS Weekend Fiction Club regular Seth James’ page. "The Parnell Affair", his fictional adaptation of the espionage and conspiracy that led to the Iraq War, got into one of the final rounds of the Amazon/Penguin Breakthrough Novel Award Contest that took place a few months ago.
What a great look at our club's members up close. Thanks.
A great book by a great author. Here is the best of the customer reviews:

"Allen's gift for voice seems so effortless, so naturally composed that immersing into his stories is like slipping into a dream. Varied and stirring, he takes us from a lonely prairie town to a smokey jazz club, from a mythical desert community to a returning soldier's story, and then on to the outward reaches of imagination. And amid the sex and the swagger, just when you've come to expect the unexpected, Allen takes us aside and delves into what truly makes us human, be it the pangs of love lost or the turmoil of decision or the easy friendship that makes a hard life livable. Whatever your tastes in fiction, you're bound to find something within these pages you'll like -- and a lot more besides, which you were not looking for and may like all the more because of it. Happy reading!"

Clearly from an intelligent and insightful reader.
Sounds good, Alysa. Thank you for sharing this with us.
I have enjoyed Ash's work here and will certainly give the book a try. I'm old school so I don't have a e-reader and can't read things on my iPod, but will try to download it onto my wife's Kindle.
ASH is a treasure, a literary marvel. We are fortunate to have such talent and dynamic creativity in our midst! Thank you for writing about him!
I've read some of Skip's stories and he is good. Alas, I don't have the time to read nearly as much fiction here as I would like, as fiction takes more time, for me, to read than most nonfiction. Ironic, obviously, as most of what I post on OS is fiction. Do fiction writers avoid each other for the time reason or is there something else? I know it's not just me, altho for me it's the time restriction. I've found that the best way to keep from slipping thru the feed and disappearing within minutes is to develop a network of friends who read each other. This has been called, by some of the less mature people here as "circlejerking." I prefer to consider it mixing social and business, i.e. I read you because I like you and what you write, and I'll rate you and leave a comment if you will be so kind as to do the same for me.

It's still hard to get the return on fiction posts even with this approach, but there are enuf people polite enuf to return the favor, keeping us both in the slippery feed a little longer. What's the big deal with the feed? One word: exposure. I usually start my reading straight from the feed, working my way up from the bottom before the lower ones slip away. I also click on the blogs of those who leave comments on my posts, and rate and read their latest post if I haven't already.

We might not pay or get paid, but we can still help each other this way.
Dearest Alysa and kind OS comrades,

I think I'm the first to have a blogsite as a Muse.

Alysa's Fiction Weekend Club challenges us all by prompts with which we might NEVER wrestle.

Come one come all, tell a friend, and always "rate" the OS Fiction Weekend blogsite.

Let's all hope that Alysa is this generation's Gertrude Stein (in influence only; Alysa, save your kisses mostly for the guys!)

Funny guy, Seth, and so right of course (lol). You are still the one to beat (in the nicest way). Like I've said: when you turn your dark powers onto mainstream themes you are already where I aspire to be!

Love (?!)
What a wonderful person you are. I too have read quite a few of his stories and you never know what you are going to get.
Bravo to the both of you!
What a wonderful person you are. I too have read quite a few of his stories and you never know what you are going to get.
Bravo to the both of you!
And the beat goes on! I've known ASH since high-school. That may not sound like long for some of you, although high-school for us was the mid sixties!
I've watched his talent and modus operandi grow in an ever widening circle; all the while his voice and characters have gotten deeper and deeper.
I don't know Seth James personally, but I do know Solomon Kayne, one of his main protagonists like the back of my hand. Seth is another writer I never skip over. His skills are definity at a professional level.
Alysa, thanks for the great info and reviews.
Every time I've read fiction on here, I've liked it. Thanks for the reminder of the good stuff out there.
Thank you for this sterling recommendation, Alysa. I love short stories. R
I just went to Amazon and read the first few pages of the first story. I instantly liked ASH's style and voice. And because I am an Amazon Prime member, the download for me is free!!! How about that?

Great and thoughtful review. Thanks!
Relevant deserved push to thread and, as time is the constant, pleae allow a quipped paraphrase of Chicken Maaan: 'I've read Skip's and Seth's and Matt's and Gerald's and Alsya's and OOL's stories and they are good. Alas, I don't have the time but read to write nearly as much fiction here as I would like, as fiction takes more time, for me, to re-read and rewrite than most poetry. Ironic, non-obviously, as most of what I post on OS is fiction and poetry, occasionally political screed subject to disambiguation and strange occurrence, as well as heightened synchronicity which has exasperated what I currently perceive as a path less taken which potentially leads to the road of ruin. Also, my travails (just cked travails, please allow the suggestion it slowed me down just enough and is aptly used) have gotten worser post subscription to *The Nation* and even now I cannot decide to purchase a new summer hat or what hey. On the other hand, if I were fond of hats, if I were not relishing this moment of silence, the soft hum of this machine, I must rush really rush to say thank you Alysa and shall get me some of those books for something to do when I am not typing or sleeping, packing the car, or dreaming comma forever enthusiastic exclamation point.
Thanks for the club and review.