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Review of My Neglected Gods

  • Tue, July 18, 2023 7:27 PM
    Message # 13229567
    Lisa Lickel (Administrator)

    My Neglected Gods

    Joanne Nelson

    Creative Nonfiction

    Vine Leaves Press, 130 pp

    reviewed by Lisa Lickel

    Turning the last page on Nelson’s new work of art makes me feel like I have to read it again, so I start backward, meandering through the wake of time, bobbing in the waves of noticing the look in the dog’s eyes, the person I would have been if I could have stayed the whole week at the retreat house, and how my grandmother’s neck got transplanted on to mine. At times I wondered if I was reading my own mind, recalling the bop upside the head in miscreant childhood, sneaking off to smoke, closing the door after thirty years—exactly thirty years—raising my kids in the same house and wondering if the next occupant could possibly appreciate it as much as I. “Perception is everything.”

    Peppered with gusto and sagacity like “Don’t get too excited, you’ll only be disappointed,” and “You’ll never know when you need a train ticket,” from Grandma’s change collection, each essay is undergirded by a strong sense of family. There’s jealousy over the humorous but poignant extra sibling—a cool bottle of beer that went everywhere with the folks, the perfect alignment of suddenly realizing all you’ll miss when you move but also the relief of knowing you won’t miss it that much. Neglected gods is a euphemism, Nelson writes, a perception wrapped in a glass of wine or humming.

    My Neglected Gods is one of those lyric little books filled with bites of encouragement for any moment. It’s a book of stories to fit everyone; a book you’ll want to savor, then pull out again at an odd moment, maybe in the middle of cleaning or during a pop-up rain while you’re weeding the garden.

    Reviewer Lisa Lickel writes fiction, collects dragons, travels, and loves to encourage authors. Lisa is the WWA Press manager and editor of Creative Wisconsin Magazine. She's also a book coach and assistant director for Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp and Writing Retreat, Inc. Lisa is an avid book reviewer and blogger, and a freelance editor. Find more at

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