A closeted and supposedly “ex-gay” mayor, a brilliant but absent-minded artist, an amusing but possibly dangerous bigot, a cat named Morgana Le Fay…. Who knew West Texas could produce such bizarre characters?
Visit the West Texas town of Acorn! Enjoy the German festival, a high school football game, homemade apple pie from the Turner Street Café, and the cool shade of a hundred-year-old oak tree. Meet dedicated teachers, unusual artists, shrewd business owners, closeted gays, and concerned neighbors. See how lives become intertwined in moments of humor or tragedy. Just be careful, because in Acorn, the sky is always falling!
From romantic comedy to razor-sharp satire to moments of quiet reflection, Duane Simolke’s award-winning story cycle transforms a fictional West Texas town into a tapestry of human experiences.
Welcome to Acorn, population 21,001, the Texas town with a little name and a big heart.
(From the story "Acorn Pie.")
People tell me a little more than they should. Well, a lot more than they should. Actually, people tell me way too much. Or they say too many things where I can hear them, which is just the same as telling me, as far as I'm concerned. Do they really think I won't share what I heard with anybody? I mean, stories like these can't just sit on a shelf in somebody's brain. The more I think about it, the more sure I am that my neighbors want someone to tell their Acorn stories, that they don't want to be just a small part of a small town in a big state in a big country. People aspire to leave something behind other than babies, a mortgage, and a nasty rumor or two. And they certainly want someone reliable telling it, like what my grandmother did when she chronicled the early folks of Acorn.
Acorn well worth the visit.
The Acorn Stories is a well-crafted collection of short stories interwoven to reveal the warts and all lives of a number of the residents in the fictional town of Acorn, Texas, population 21,001. On the surface Acorn is just a laid-back, typical little West Texas town, except with lots of trees. But Duane Simolke lets us look way beyond the surface as he introduces us to the townspeople. We meet a struggling young married couple, a beloved teacher who is both gay and deaf, a lonely widow, a kind young man who is the product of an abusive household, a not-so-loveable, but funny scoundrel, an estranged daughter. There are too many memorable characters--likeable and not so likeable--to mention. My favorite is a transplanted "Acornian" on the lam. A writer from New Orleans who fakes his death in order to become "great" and sell books. And one of my favorite lines from Simolke's book is attributed to him: "I missed New Orleans. I missed rain and trees and hurricanes and jazz and Anne Rice and dirty rice and people who spoke bad English with finesse at an unnatural speed." Simolke doesn't hold back in his attempt to reveal the truth that is Acorn and all small towns. The motley group of characters in the The Acorn Stories will make you cry, and will also make you laugh, because as my transplanted "Acornian" so humorously puts it "nothing could be more frightening than "an afterlife in West Texas."
--L.L. Lee, author of Taxing Tallula
A Wide Variety of Personalities Awaits You.
It was a real pleasure to read about the fictional town of Acorn, TX and get to meet all the different and varied people that Mr. Simolke so eloquently fleshed out. The many and varied voices with which he was able to assume to bring these characters to life made me wonder at times if he?d even transcribed recordings! He was successful in making me believe he was young, old, White, Black, Hispanic, straight, gay, male, and female. It is the mark of a truly talented author who has the ability to listen and look at a wide variety of people, then translate what he hears and sees of them onto paper--and successfully make me believe. And even though each of the vignettes was relatively short, I had a sense that I really knew each of the characters who was speaking or thinking. Mr. Simolke is an author one shouldn't ignore.
--Mark Kendrick, author of Desert Sons
From a Small Seed, a Tree...
The tales in Duane Simolke's The Acorn Stories are so interrelated that it's almost misleading to call them a collection of short stories. By the time you have finished reading these tales of the people who inhabit the fictitious town of Acorn, Texas, population 21,001, you will have met some endearing as well as irritating characters, from the Mayor to the local would-be gigolo; from the busy-bodies to the business owners; from those who grew up in Acorn and have tried to escape the small town to those who have moved to Acorn to escape from the real world. Set in west Texas, you will understand and appreciate the culture of Hispanics and Anglos as they play out their lives with each other, with an interesting mix of blacks thrown in. Meet Becky and Kyle, the newlyweds, and Becky's overprotective sister, Regina. You grow to like Becky and Kyle and their struggle to make ends meet, while their love for each other blossoms and grows strong as they put down roots in Acorn. Meet a famous writer who has staged his own death and is now hiding out in Acorn, while his wife is busy promoting his works. Meet the gay art gallery owner, whose business is ruined by the closeted Mayor and the league of religious bigots who seek to cleanse the town of immorality and to put women in their "place." Rejoice when the art gallery is rebuilt with the help of one of the local rich women, so that Becky can display her unusual and very personal artwork. There are too many character to enumerate, and I don't want to ruin your reading experience by listing too many of the delightful and dreadful scenes that occur in the small town. But I would like to mention my favorite story, which has such a surprise ending it left me thinking of "A Rose for Emily," not because of the subject matter, but because this writer, like Faulkner, does not let you guess the truth until the end. "Knock" is described by Simolke as a story where "a father sees his daughter abandon her Mexican heritage, and he now fears other types of abandonment." Simolke doesn't tell you who is knocking at Jamie Hernandez's door, and you have to wait for the end to find out something utterly different than what you might expect. Although there are other masterfully told stories in this book, "Knock" in my opinion is the centerpiece.