Until the Red Swallows It All By Mason Parker, 178 pgs.

Nov 15, 2022

Mason Parker’s debut book is a series of short stories and vignettes that correspond to experiences and tales influenced by his youth in Oklahoma. The Sooner state is somewhere I’ve only been once, when I was a roadie for a band back in the ’00s. Therefore, I can’t say exactly how much these stories read true to the experience of living there. Nor, I should add, is Oklahoma a place where I have any romantic notions of life, youth, and adventures like I may with, say, New England, or the sun-drenched life of L.A.

Parker plays primarily in the world of the personal but weaves in the political, often with how it relates to our current environmental crisis. In doing so, he occasionally takes the reader off track into something that doesn’t seem as well connected to the rest of the vignette. One thing that’s consistent is that all these tales primarily relate to the outdoor environment and the world around us. They aren’t being told in an office setting or a dark bar. People are moving, they’re hiking, they’re driving, and they’re embracing the environment of wherever it is they are (usually Oklahoma, although the book does have accounts from other states).

“The Generations Forget Each Other” is where it all comes together well. Parker ties together the environment, the personal, and Oklahoma through the simple act of seeing a Monarch butterfly rest on his hand. It’s very well written and encompasses what I think he’s trying to get across through the entire book. But, overall, Until the Red Swallows It All is hit and miss in the tales. Sometimes the experiences were intriguing, other times forgettable. It’s only toward the end where Parker seems to be hitting his stride. I’d love to read more material like that and see a better focus on the interweaving of his interests. –Kurt Morris (tridentcafe.com/trident-press-titles)

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