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Book Review: Amplified: Fiction From Leading Alt-Country, Indie Rock, Blues and Folk Musicians by Julie Schaper

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Amplified is a collection of short stories written by 16 different authors, many of whose names you’ll immediately recognize, but not from print sources. These stories are by songwriters of various genres, consisting of the following in alphabetical order: Robbie Fulks, Mary Gauthier, Cynthia Hopkins, Cam King, Damon Krukowski, Jon Langford, Patty Larkin, Maria McKee, Rhett Miller, David Olney, Zak Sally, Chris Smither, Rennie Sparks, Laura Viers, Ben Weaver, and Jim White.

For many of these writers, this is their first venture at story writing. Others are more experienced. Either way, you’re getting original fiction not published before.

These stories ran the gamut from happy to sad, weird to weirder, funny, macabre – you name it, it’s represented here.

Some beginnings: “It was almost dawn when the Reverend Blackwell dragged his wife up to the cliffs of Mount Pleasant.” Another: “Trouble today.” Another: “CLUMP” And still another: “I had a mystical experience with Johnny Cash’s pants.”

Some endings: “If this is the voice of God, that’s just fine with me.” Another: “Tears welled up and blinded him as he stumbled into the house.” Another: “CLUMP” And still another: “None heard his cry (save the little fish nibbling his dead fingers and the brown mud below, waiting to take his body into her arms).”

You can’t necessarily take for granted that, just because you don’t like a particular songwriter’s previous recordings you’ve heard, that you’ll not like his or her story. Or vice versa.

Each is a stand-alone composition, some well-written, others very well-written. But in all of them, the story takes you on a journey. The journey may not be what you expected, for some, it may not be a journey you want. But a journey it is.

To quote the PR sheet I received with the book: “The late, great Larry Brown said that a good song was just a short story written on a guitar.” Perhaps these stories will encourage you to put one of them to music.

Once you’ve purchased the book, you can order a free promo CD featuring music from the contributors to the book. To learn more about this book, go to the book’s website.

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