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Reader reviews of:
The Old Asians Clap by John Dempsey
Reviewer: Terrie Leigh Relf, M.A.
Ocean Beach, CA
Dempsey's dedication says it all as he prepares us for an intriguing and visceral ride. I couldn't stop turning the pages until the end?
So what happens on this wild ride? There’s short fiction, flash fiction, poems
in free verse, occasional prose and more; all liberally doused with scotch, sex and existential angst.
Dempsey is honest. I like that in a writer. No, I "need" that in a writer. He seems adept at invoking chaos and then restoring order in stories like
Notes On A Bar Napkin, Hot Tub Thoughts, Simple Swan Dives from High Cliffs,
The Old Asians Clap, Worse than Poison Ivy, and
The Eel In A Hammock.
John is sensitive too. A guy with a heart. Pay attention on these pages to the off-beat and occasional synchronous rhythm, and the sonorous, sweet sounds.
I’m really quite fond of his “I Could’ve Been" passages and found myself identifying with him, wanting to shout out “DUDE! We can be anything we want. We're writers!”
And so he is.
It's definitely worth $12.95 to experience John Dempsey's "Creative Theorism" as he documents
and analyzes not only his own existence but also the people and the
city around him.
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Reviewer: Christina M. Rau
John Dempsey has a habit of breaking social taboos. A raw look at
addictive personalities, artists, and internal uncertainty between
the fictional and the real self lies at the core of The Old Asians
Clap. At times, Dempsey spits at you, grabs you by the shoulders and
shakes until you see the world from his eyes. Other times, he
seduces you with dark humor and insidious delight. Even his
dedication, “to livers…itchy nights…little gods we keep…” and “…old
milk” reflects a level of uncensored brilliance.
In this mix of poetry, prose and stories, Dempsey uses a typically
conversational tone, allowing us to occupy center stage as the story
unfolds around us. Pretty captures uncertainty with the repetition
of “maybe” while That’s It. Sure. shows vulnerability followed by
acceptance in the lines, “And when I finally give it up, there will
be strangers at my funeral…Sure.” Between the longer works are short
snippets; the most intriguing and comedic the set of I Could’ve Been’s that present “what if” scenarios about different lives. The
Beat influence with a hint of Whitman shows through in several
poems. Manhattan Appreciation praises the city’s
idiosyncrasies like “all the bacteria on door knobs” and Metrosexuals! Manhattan!
The 21st Century posits a city very different from the Old Gotham
of literary past. (Take that, Edith Wharton).
The prose pieces continue with the conversational tone and move into
the private lives of men who want women; men who have, lose and
regain women; and men and women who like to drink, use drugs, and of
course write. Two standouts: Fight At The Bank, and Correspondence (a building block)
– with some sarcasm, they
culminate in glorious confusion for all.
The Old Asians Clap offers discomfort and awkwardness in a skillful,
purposeful, and highly crafted way. Through all that, Dempsey finds
simplicity in telling his tales of the abnormally mundane. This
collection succeeds in leaving you bound to your own humanness while
delving into the life others lead, perhaps a life you wish you could
lead for a day just to feel what it’s like. With The Old Asians
Clap, you come pretty close.
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Reviewer: Renee Angers, prior editor of
After reading this book I was practically speechless. What can I say
about Dempsey's writing that I haven't already said? The Old
Asians Clap is the same as its predecessors in the sense that
it doesn't disappoint. The works are maniacally hilarious and
distressing; and the stories in each volume are interesting,
poignant and disquieting.
I've raved about the work of John Dempsey since the first time I
read his work and I'm still raving. If you haven't had the pleasure
of reading John Dempsey's work, I strongly recommend you do so.
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Reviewer: Kristi Swadley, assistant editor of
Adagio Verse Quarterly
In the very first story of the The Old Asians Clap, Dempsey is told
by an old drunk that he's blocked, or constipated. One could
speculate that the old drunk is actually Dempsey; his future self
somehow time-traveled back to give his younger self a kick in the
ass. What follows in The Old Asians Clap is Dempsey as engaging and
manic as ever.
An Audience of One is Dempsey's nod to the solitary life of a
writer. There's reflection here, maybe even a hint of maturity.
There's truth as well. I've always loved the intensity with which
John writes, and Fight at the Bank is a prime example. I'm right
there with him as he goes after the spineless Jeep driver. I want to
kick the Jeep driver's ass as badly as Dempsey does.
In the story Confession, Dempsey offers a unique if not bizarre way
to confess ones sins. It seems right somehow, using a doctor as a
pseudo-priest. I'm also partial to the I Could've Been segments;
short passages that serve as interludes to refocus the reader's mind
after having dealt with John's buzzing, blurring and mania. As for
the rest of the book, I'll leave that to the reader to discover,
hopefully as delightedly as I did.
I must add that The Dempsey Institute of Literature is a brilliant
ending to the book. Although he finishes it with a disclaimer, you
should take this piece seriously. Every point he makes is valid;
making me (a writer) wonder what on Earth I'm doing.