Nebraska Center for Writers

Chimney Rock What the Critics Say
About Lisa Sandlin


The Famous Thing About Death
Copyright © 1991
by Lisa Sandlin
Cinco Puntos Press

These are wonderful stories — passionate, fierce, reckless, and scrupulously written. Lisa Sandlin has a true heart and an unsparing eye. — Rick DeMarinis

I have an immense admiration for Lisa Sandlin's storytelling talent, for the music of her language, for its fine driving force. — Pamela Painter

Anyone who wants to be in on the start of an exciting, original talent will be well-advised to read Lisa Sandlin's remarkable new collection of stories. This is an author who has that rarest of combinations: something important to say and the skill to say it. — WD Wetherell

In the River Province
Copyright © 2004
by Lisa Sandlin
Southern Methodist UP

Lisa Sandlin's third collection centers around the daily lives of characters in northern New Mexico who interact with saints literally or metaphorically. Several of the stories take place on the annual Good Friday walk to Chimayo and incorporate traditional elements of pilgrimage: storytelling and chance. — from the publisher

A wonderful addition to the literature of the Southwest. — Rudolfo Anaya

Canterbury comes to Chimayo. Sandlin lays claim to a part of the world so infused with beauty it startles people awake, a world where miracles still happen, where the divine isn't taken for granted, where each moment is poised on the knife edge of change. Storytelling at its finest. — Jonis Agee

A prose poem to New Mexico that will endure to become a classic. — John Nichols

Sandlin's poetic prose is evocative of both time and place (she summers in Santa Fe). What results is sometimes mysterious and sometimes humorous, pulling in themes of illness, death, and the kindness and brutality of strangers. — Library Journal

These are richly detailed stories of human struggle and the help that sometimes appears along the way. — NCB News

Immaculately rendered to create a wholly formed world in itself, whose characters, images and narratives remain with us long after the story has ended. — Santa Fe New Mexican

As you'd expect from a writer with two other published story collections, a Pushcart prize and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship to her credit, these are good stories. Very much better than much of the current wave of set-in-northern-New-Mexico fiction published lately. — Albuquerque Journal

Message to the Nurse of Dreams
Copyright © 1997
by Lisa Sandlin
Cinco Puntos Press

Message to the Nurse of Dreams is about growing up in the late 60s in a Texas oil town soaked by Gulf winds, where every kid was one generation removed from the country — a time when black and white got mixed together, half-grown, half-children, trying to decide if they were as different as they'd been led to believe all their lives....It's the 60s in Texas. Towns like Port Sabine and Vidor. White kids and black kids in school together for the first time. The black disc jockey says, "This one is dedicated to all you blue-eyed soul sisters out there, hiding what the good Lord gave you. Move into it, babies." — from the jacket

Reading these short stories of Lisa Sandlin's is like looking through 3-D glasses at the specter of our most volatile decade, everything brilliantly surreal, startlingly familiar, and refreshingly unpredictable. The prose is not only beautiful, but there's not a dishonest sentence anywhere to be found. I admire this writer enormously. — Antonya Nelson

For the narrator of the title story a boy's failure to learn the shell game becomes a figure for his life-long searching. "He does the hardest looking I've ever heard about," she says. "It's like he has to make a whole new pea since he can't find one where it should be." Lisa Sandlin's fiction embodies precisely this kind of looking. — Dabney Stuart

In Message to the Nurse of Dreams...Lisa Sandlin displays a deep, instinctive understanding of the ways in which generally close-knit families compulsively bicker and splinter — and the ways in which a teen-age girl can, unexpectedly, be as concerned about her moral nature as she is about her complexion....Since the stories are set in the rapidly changing social world of the Texas Gulf Coast, Sandlin's characters' inherent confusions are both aggravated and ennobled by racial intermingling....Sandlin's stories focus on young women, using their naiveté to build moving portrayals of people coming to understand others even as they remain unsure about themselves. This strategy achieves a peak of gritty lyricism in a story called "Cold in the Bone," whose narrator painstakingly puzzles out the behavior of her embattled family — and of a stricken girl. — Bruce Allen, New York Times

...snapshots of a Gulf Coast town during the days of integration, sharp and specific, honest and weirdly unpredictable....Sandlin makes you feel the optimism, and wonder how it all got lost. She draws on both her Texas roots and sixties youth culture and comes up with language that is poignant and often hilarious. I’m just grateful for writers like Sandlin who give us a new way of seeing everything. — Barbara Ferry, Texas Observer

...a collection of short stories that addresses coming of age — and becoming aware of racism — in the kind of "Pig Stand, 7-11, refinery town" that dots the Gulf Coast. — Texas Monthly

In the shifting world of late 1960s South Texas in which these stories ar set, her characters, both blacks and whites, make tentative steps toward understanding each other. In the process, they discover or rediscover that they can't connect with someone else until they connect with and tell the truth to themselves. ... This book has much to admire: wisdom, wit, and humor, combined with a fine flair for style and drama and a finely wrought sense of place. — Dan Holtz, Nebraska Territory

Times of Sorrow/Times of Grace
Copyright © 2002
by Lisa Sandlin, Greg Kosmicki, and Marjorie Saiser (eds)
Backwaters Press

Times of Sorrow/Times of Grace is a collection of poetry, fiction, and memoir by women writers from the Great Plains/High Plains region of the US, including such notes authors and poets as Jonis Agee, Marilyn Krysl, Judith Minty, Mary Pipher, Hilda Raz, CarolAnn Russel, Judith Sornberger, Laurel Speer, Gladys Swan, and SL Wisenberg. — from the jacket

From the visually stunning cover to the black and white wildflower drawings and eye pleasing font, this anthology is a keeper. It is a map of secret journeys to be shared, read and reread. — Midwest Book Review

You Who Make the Sky Bend
Copyright © 2011
by Lisa Sandlin and Catherine Ferguson
Pinyon Publishing

Most saints began as children, as all humans do. Martin de Porres’ white father abandoned him; Dymphna fled an incestuous father. Rosa de Lima threw her mother into despair. Brendan built a boat from leather and butter; Francis of Assisi talked to animals. Teresa de Ávila wielded a wry sense of humor, and Catherine of Alexandria argued fifty master philosophers into cowering silence. A few, though, did not know childhood or death. Archangel Michael’s name was a battle cry; shining Gabriel calmed the terrified before delivering his messages. Desperate for the powers associated with Librada (relief from bad husbands and boyfriends) and Expeditus (exceedingly swift help), people conjured these saints from relic and desire. Catherine Ferguson and Lisa Sandlin have combined their exceptional talents to create a beautiful book of retablo paintings of saints, accompanied by biographies that draw on ancient sources, poetry, and literature. You Who Make The Sky Bend relates the saints to stages of the human condition, thus placing them into the wheel of life. For they touch lives. The saints remain on call, as if their form is a kind of ethereal transmitter tube lit by their filament souls. Many people talk to them, daily, weekly, or on the unforeseen morning when misfortune pushes past their threshold. And many people believe they are heard—by the saint, their better selves, their own hearts. — from the publisher

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