Thursday, November 15, 2007 Review

Maurice Williams reviews Pariah Tales at

Friday, November 9, 2007

Mark Spitzer Reviews PARIAH TALES

Pariah Tales
by Jack Phillips Lowe
Onzo Imprints
$3.00, 76 pp

Jack Phillips Lowe's Pariah Tales is a ten-story collection based on the theme of being a loner and/or being lonely. Whereas some of the characters lean more toward pariah-tude than others, though, what interested me the most were the stories that involved threads of the supernatural. For example, "The Buried Moon" is about a not very likeable tomb-raiding professor who busts into the treasure chamber of a pyramid only to get laughed at and called names by a long-gone ruler of Egypt. This was an ending I didn't expect, and another thing I didn't expect was a stark-naked Bo Derek perched on the hood of car cruising down the highway in a story called "The Wisher," in which this guy picks up a hitchhiker with the power of making the impossible possible. A strange exchange takes place and the story continues after it quits in a semi-Twilight Zone kind of way.

Lowe is an innovator and he isn't afraid to experiment with new forms of fiction. One story is told totally in an answering machine monologue (complete with dates and times and subliminal info gleaned from extrapolation) and another is a semi-absurd footnoted translation from a time capsule in which people in the future are advised to basically thaw out a guy named Spazz (who used to be "a high school dropout" and "beer sponge"), then

Get together a group of your smartest young people, guys and girls, of all races. Sit Spazz down in front of them, and have them ask him a bunch of questions about our time. The questions should be about stuff like education and morality, gender and race relations, children and family, and war and peace. If he starts to babble on about how great a wide receiver he was in high school or about the time he almost met Seka, smack him. Otherwise, you'll be bored as hell.

Readers are then advised to take careful note of Spazz's responses, then "smash in his head with big rocks," and do the exact opposite of everything he ever said.

Then there's the story of Jim Neuland, who isn't as much of a pariah as he is forsaken by society, or, perhaps, such a loser he can't even find asylum in church. He goes home (when everyone knows you can't go home), gets run off of sacred ground by a crotchety old nun, then gets the door slammed in his face by an oldster he thought would remember him. Because this guy is a nobody! Yep, a suicide waiting to happen.

Somehow, however, we keep reading on, rather than slitting our wrists. And when we do identify with a character, some bitch throws tea in our face. But then we meet a pissy curmudgeon with a stupid wife to whom he admits his infidelity while they are stalled in traffic, and she calls him on his years of bullshit just in time for sabotage to kick in because the geezer shorted two Mexican kids for washing his car. In the end, poetic justice is served. But that doesn't mean that all the stories in this collection end so satisfactorily—which is one of the charming features of this work. Especially in an age when people are tired of the crowd-pleasing coda. Because let's face it, darkness is also in demand.

Anyway, the stories are colorful and imaginative, sometimes realistic but sometimes more along the lines of psilocybin. As a narrator, Lowe still has a lot of energy and he engages his audience, sometimes even slaps us up. And we like it. We want more—from one extreme to the other! Because we all have a bit of pariah in us—a glimmer glizzened by our author, who plays on our weaknesses just as much as our strengths. The weakness, however, are always a lot easier to see, and much more fun to read about. Especially when the subject is us, but reflected in the mirror of somebody else.

Copies of Pariah Tales are available from the author at: Box 39, Addison, IL 60101 USA (checks payable to J.P. Lowe).

–Mark Spitzer

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

"A Box of Delicious Candy" says Laura Stamps

Good news! PARIAH TALES, a new book of short stories by J.P. Lowe has just been published by Onzo Imprints. Lowe is an incredibly imaginative, talented short-story writer, and PARIAH TALES is his third book.

What can I say? Reading one of Lowe's collections is like opening a box of delicious candy, each piece exquisite, unique, and a pure delight. PARIAH TALES is no exception. This 76-page book contains 10 short stories, many of which have previously appeared in literary magazines around the world, including Barbaric Yawp, Big Toe Review, Hob-Nob, Pens on Fire, Pulp & Dagger Fiction, Gold Dust Magazine, Internet Fiction, and Open Wide.

Very impressive. But what can readers and fans expect from PARIAH TALES? "The title says what it is, and what it's about," says Lowe. "The collection is centered around the notion of being alone, either by choice or by circumstance. Something we can all relate to at one time or another in our lives. The stories are filled with characters who find themselves set apart for various reasons. Some stories are humorous, while others are more serious, but all share this common concept."

Onzo Imprints has published PARIAH TALES in a small, signed, collector's edition. If you are interested in owning a copy, send a check or money order for $3.00 made payable to: J.P. Lowe. Mail to J.P. Lowe, P.O. Box 39, Addison, IL 60101, USA (free shipping in the USA). For more information go to or email


Review by Laura Stamps (c)


"Green Tea" a short story by Jack Phillips Lowe:

I offered her some Prozac.

“I don’t want any!” she said, all pissy-like. At first, I liked this college girl’s attitude and fancy talk. It was fun—like a little girl telling her big brother what she learned in school that day. But after a while, she decided to “educate” me, make me see “the other side of things,” and her talk started feeling like sand in my crack.

“I don’t have any,” I said, “but if I did, I’d give it to you. You’re f*cking nuts.”

“Why, just because I don’t want to be famous?” She did that “blazing” thing with her eyes that always made me horny.

“Exactly. Every real American wants to be a star.” I poured cream in my coffee. “Stars coast through life on clouds. Do I have to list the perks?”

She picked at her raisin toast. “No, I realize that there are ‘perks.’ But there are also dues. You pay them after you die.” She was weird that way. Pick, pick. I never saw her just eat anything.

“Okay by me. Famous guys get the cash and the babes. What else matters?” I sipped my coffee. The damned cream was sour.

She put her chin on her palm and gave me her “silly boy” look. “Mimmo, try to think of it this way. Before your body hits the morgue, the tabloids hit the stores—chock full of stories about what a bastard you were.”

I hated her “silly boy” look. “Big whip. Unless St. Peter subscribes, I’ll never see them.” Brat. That showed her, I thought.

“Later come the hagiographies—”

I couldn’t even say it, so I just looked at her.

“—or books about saints. Tributes written by your mailman and your pool girl, who signed million-dollar contracts based on the grand total of ten minutes you spent with them. Of course, they never shared those compliments with you. You were a pampered star, and didn’t need them.”

Sometimes, if I just let her blab, she’d blab herself out. She was a hottie, but she had mouth trouble. So I tucked into my waffles. They were good, but I knew I was screwing myself. I was one chin away from being a blimp, and I had to be careful. Fat guys slept alone.

“You get planted in some ritzy bone yard.” She took a drink of her tea. “Your spouse takes your cash and the 21-year old gardener and goes to live in luxury on the tropical island getaway you sweated to pay for.” It was green tea. She actually drank that shit.

“Wait. When you say ‘you,’ you mean me, right?” I asked.

She gave me the eye-roll and heavy sigh combo. “You’re forced to become a tourist attraction. Your tombstone poses for pictures with Bob and Fran from Peoria, who pay their respects by showering your grave with a cheap beer you wouldn’t have touched.”

I grabbed a few packets of sugar and looked at the little pictures printed on them. “Whew! Sounds like somebody’s car stalled at the corner of Bitch and Whine today!”

“A few years pass, and serious scholars reappraise your career in books published by universities. They dissect your body of work—symbolically your body—only to agree that the tabloids were right. You really were a bastard.”

I scratched the stubble on my jaw. “Wave a flag when you get to the point.” It sucked. I shaved every morning, and by eleven or so, I was all stubbly again.

“Mimmo, that was the point! What do we have beyond our identities? What do we leave behind besides memories? Dead celebrities are robbed of these and become public scapegoats. Truth is seasonal, but lies can last forever. Give me privacy any day.”

I wiped syrup off my mouth. “Sweetie, like a wise man once said, it’s better to hump supermodels today than to worry about how the shit falls when you’re gone. No matter. You and it will both be fertilizing the lawn.”

She grabbed her tea, threw it in my face, and stomped
out. We broke up two days later. That’s how I remembered she
drank green tea.


© 2007 J.P. Lowe

[If you enjoyed "Green Tea", there are 9 other stories like it in PARIAH TALES!]

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Back-story on Pariah Tales

Pariah Tales is a 76-page paperback collection of ten short stories written by J.P. Lowe. Have you ever felt alone, either by choice or by circumstance? This book invites you to join the crowd in doing so. Why not treat yourself, or the reader(s) in your life, to a copy today?

Copyright © 2007 Jack Phillips Lowe
All rights reserved.

All situations & persons depicted in this book are strictly fictional.

Earlier versions of selected stories first
appeared in Barbaric Yawp, Big Toe Review,
Gold Dust Magazine
(U.K.), Hob-Nob, Internet Fiction (U.K.),
Open Wide (U.K.), Pens On Fire and Pulp & Dagger Fiction.
The author thanks the editors of these publications.

Published by Onzo Imprints.

Copies of Pariah Tales are
available for $3.00 USA (postpaid) each from:

J.P. Lowe
Box 39
Addison, IL 60101 USA

(checks/money orders payable to J.P. Lowe)

Critical Response to the Writings of J.P. Lowe

“This kid’s got a lot of energy.”

Mark Spitzer, Exquisite Corpse

“Mr. Lowe covers a lot of ground at a brisk pace, with craft.”

Phil Wagner, The Iconoclast

“Lowe tells stories with a plot and a point. His characters are real and his dialogue snappy. He makes you laugh, then cringe in suspense.”

John Berbrich, Barbaric Yawp

“To enter Lowe’s world is to submit to one entertaining story after another, each different and unique, yet all a delight.”

Laura Stamps, Chiron Review