The Warblers by Amber Fallon
Eraserhead Press (September 2017)
86 pages; $10.95 paperback; $5.95 e-book
Reviewed by Chad Lutzke
I stood on our rickety old porch, looking out towards the peeling paint on the back shed as the sunset drained like a stuck pig, bleeding out red all over.
In this first-person, coming-of-age novella, a warbler is a winged creature that isn’t welcome. And after young Dell and his family try to ignore the pack of them, it turns out they’re rather dangerous, too–-–even tearing apart poor Dell’s dog. So Dell and his father set out to rid their back shed of the beasts, but the means to which they do so could prove even worse a predicament than what they’re already up against. Not just for their family, but maybe for the whole town.
I think it was the Joe Lansdale blurb I saw that reeled me in. I figured if Joe liked it, I’d like it too. And I was right.
The Warblers is simple storytelling, and while the ending doesn’t necessarily kick it up a notch, you get the reward along the way in the telling itself, where you get to listen to Dell and what he thinks about his father and his mother and sister and about the local bully, all the while preparing for and anticipating the day he and his father take down the evil pests lurking around the shed.
One thing that stuck out was how long the book was with what little there was to tell, yet it didn’t feel padded. Any padding that was there felt comfortable, not like filler. And most impressive was the old-timey southern dialect that Fallon pulled off and just how authentic it felt, like it was just her thing and always had been. Something all too natural to ever have us think otherwise.
The Warblers is a quick read with well-paced chapters–-–a tale to be told around a campfire while the horses sleep standing and the men rest their bones under the influence of whiskey, a long day’s work and starshine.