The Sense of Touch

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The Sense of Touch is a set of eight extraordinary sketch stories about ordinary midwestern people. Principally set in the areas where rising author Parsons spent much of his time, namely Michigan, Minnesota, and South Dakota, the theme of this debut collection centers on those who are trying to find their place in the world. Each sketch’s environs and characters are colorfully described with a plethora of apt and catchy metaphors and similes. Featuring, at the very least, one person who is figuring out life’s path amid random circumstances, each narrative is left open ended – a classic trait that leaves readers to draw their own conclusions.

Parsons, a full-time attorney who squeezes in writing during his free time, states on his website ( that his first published book has been a process, which “started in college” and was “twenty years in the making.” Written either in first or third person, many from this collection were submissions that made their initial appearance in various literary magazines, such as The Gettysburg Review, Indiana Review, The Briar Cliff Review, Flyway, and The Onion, and one that was “named one of two runners up for the David Schwarz Fiction Prize.” Parsons, whose list of influences include a full list of literary favorites, could have easily incorporated Rod Serling in the mix – based on a couple of his stories.

“Beginning with Minneapolis” relays the story of Waylon Baker and his estranged relationship with his ex-wife, Evie, who unexpectedly comes back into his life. Daniel visits a somewhat disgruntled blind friend, Ed, in “The Black Hills.” Ed hopes that his life is turning out for the better, now that he has a live-in girlfriend – or so he thinks. In “As Her Heart is Navigated” Haley is at the cusp of a long-time relationship with Clint. Anticipating that he’ll pop the question at any moment, she is suddenly caught up in an “unforcasted flurry of events” that leads to a whole new set of circumstances. Finally, Virgil is confronted with decisions he has carefully averted in “Moonlight Bowling.” The aforementioned stories are written in third person.

Penned in first person with unknown narrators, a young man shares his eye opening educational and personal experiences in this story fittingly named after the title of Parsons debut compilation, while another young man reflects on his life with his twin brother and grandfather in “Big Blue.” Of primary significance – also written in first person – are “Hezekiah Number Three” and “Be Not Afraid of the Universe.” Alluding to Parsons’ list of literary influences, both reflect superlative representations of Rod Serling’s unforgettable Twilight Zone series. “Hezekiah Number Three” is Tom’s account about his friend, Naseem, whose life unfurls into bizarre and surreal situations, while another unknown narrator enlightens readers with his simple life story that has a chilling closure in “Be Not Afraid of the Universe.”

Eloquently written and replete with a continual stream of un-hackneyed twists and turns, Parsons’ collection is superbly crafted. Engaging, riveting, and at times, mind-boggling, The Sense of Touch is earmarked to become a literary classic.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 253 pages
Publisher Aqueous Books
Publish Date 01-May-2013
ISBN 9780988383777 Buy this Book
Issue October 2014
Category Modern Literature


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