The Villagers | Critical Book Review

Derek Owens’ “The Villagers” embarks on a whimsical journey, entwining playful narratives with brutal realities in a dreamy, sticky slideshow of fables. This collection, responding to Caroline Golden’s 2009 paper collages, is a delightful exercise in serendipitous ekphrasis, where words and images dance together, challenging the reader to anthropomorphize alien constructions into vibrant personalities.


A Kaleidoscope of Villagers

Multifarious Tales Beyond Expectations

Each story in “The Villagers” orbits around a different collage, presenting characters with names ranging from the mundane (“The mariner”) to the cosmic (“The lunar king”). The collection’s stories meander through dark corners of reality, evoking echoes of Borges, while others explode in neon chaos, making Wonderland seem tame. The unpredictability and freshness of each installment make Owens’ narrative a resounding success, breathing life into the unexpected inhabitants of this surreal world.


Humble Playfulness and Artistic Symbiosis

Avoiding High-Brow Sentiment

Owens’ literary responses maintain a humble playfulness, steering clear of the high-brow sentiment often found in mixed-media works. The anticipation between stories is palpable, as Golden’s collages serve as diving boards into imaginative realms. The collaboration between artist and author draws the reader-viewer into a captivating dance, where bidding farewell to one Villager only amplifies the eagerness to meet the next.


Diverse Narratives in Compact Dimensions

A Fabulous Feat of Creativity

The sheer variety between stories transforms the 140-page collection into an expansive universe. From macabre tales to psychedelic excursions, the lack of a single labeled box for each story enhances the experience. Owens’ ability to keep the reader on their toes, surprising them with each turn, is a testament to his fabulous creativity and storytelling prowess.


Unconventional Appeal and Post-Hyper-Exponential Delight

Characters Unleashed in Wild Trappings

“The Villagers” caters to those who have spun tales from passing clouds on grassy knolls. With its experimental leanings, the collection diverges from traditional structures, yet the wild characters find appeal in their sheer uniqueness. Owens’ narratives, much like the exponential growth described in “The courier,” take readers on a memorable ride, exploring realms removed from conventional logic.


Final Verdict: A Small Collection with Cosmic Depths

Staring Wide-Eyed as the Space Unfolds

“The Villagers” is a compact collection that holds a universe within its pages. Owens invites readers to embark on an expanse of creativity, where each story unfolds like a post-hyper-exponential revelation. For those ready to be swept away by the unexpected, “The Villagers” awaits, a mesmerizing blend of literary artistry and visual wonder.

Publisher, Genre, Print Length, and ISBN

PublisherGenrePrint LengthISBN
Animal Heart PressLiterary Fiction / Short Story Collection148 pages9781736516768

Derek Owens’ “The Villagers” embarks on a whimsical journey, entwining playful narratives with brutal realities in a dreamy, sticky slideshow of fables. This collection, responding to Caroline Golden’s 2009 paper collages, is a delightful exercise in serendipitous ekphrasis, where words and images dance together, challenging the reader to anthropomorphize alien constructions into vibrant personalities. A…