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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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The Old Asians Clap - John Dempsey

The Old Asians Clap
by John Dempsey

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The Old Asians Clap - John Dempsey

Reviewer: Renee Angers, prior editor of New Graffiti
Ontario, Canada

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
Independence, Missouri

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.

The Old Asians Clap - John Dempsey

The Old Asians Clap
by John Dempsey

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The Old Asians Clap - John Dempsey