The Girl with Red Hair: Musings on a Theme, Edited by Thomas E. Kennedy and Walter Cummins

(Serving House Books, $10)

Reviewed by R.A. Rycraft

 

 

This anthology, like the woman in the photograph that inspired it, is both multifaceted and engaging.  Kennedy and Cummins have done a brilliant job of gathering together an extraordinary collection of stories, poems, and essays that captures prismatic glimpses into the fictional essence of The Girl with Red Hair.  She is one of many human-like dolls in Lance Olsen’s magical realism story “The Short Time of Smiling.”  For poet H.L. Hix, she is “Marie, Beside the River” – a metaphor for the youth we were “long ago.”  In the short story, “The Lilies of Wolf Creek,” Susan Tekulve paints her as a young woman grieving the cancer death of her mother, angry with the father she believes has moved on.   In “Other People’s Problems,” Ladette Randolph imagines her a tyrannized wife escaping a rotten marriage . . . or life – which is it?  And she is the enviably restored corpse in Laura McCullough’s poem “What We Want.”  Whether she’s a “cougar” with kids, a “Red Desdemona,” or being “rearranged in bed,” The Girl with Red Hair definitely evokes the term temptress and, like a temptress, makes for an irresistible read. 

 

 

R. A. Rycraft has published stories, essays, reviews, and interviews in a number of journals and anthologies, including PIF Magazine, VerbSap, Perigee, The MacGuffin and Calyx. Winner of an Eric Hoffer Best New Writing Editor’s Choice Award for 2008 and a Special Mention for the 2010 Pushcart Prize, Rycraft is chair of the English department at Mt. San Jacinto College in Menifee, California.