Phyllis Binkley's stories and poems zero in on small moments and large turning points.

More than anything, Phyllis Binkley writes about human connection, and each of the stories in this new collection, Up From the Marsh, is about a reunion of sorts. “The Sisterhood,” the longest of the stories, brings together seven women in their thirties, former college classmates who get together again for a weekend to finish unresolved past business in order to move on separately to better futures. “Keepsakes” is about a woman’s need to make peace with and enjoy the company of a few old friends and close family members before it will be too late. These people are different from one another, but together they make up her community. The story ends with the inevitable, but there is a sense more of gain than of loss. “A Convenient Place to Wait” is the story of a woman's aging into the end game. She's in a nursing care facility, visited occasionally by her granddaughter and her grown children, as she waits in this convenient place to go home. As she slips into dementia, the family are both her support and her adversaries. “A Day of Quality” is a quiet story about surviving a series of small but annoying losses. But being at home at the end of the day with his wife and children makes the difference to the protagonist. He realizes the only thing he really lost that day was the chance to see a lovely sunset, and he knows there will be other sunsets.

Phyllis Binkley’s storytelling skill is sharp and true. Her dialogue is pitch-perfect, and she deals with big issues: redemption, family love, the haunting past, the bonds of friendship, the importance of what remains of finite life, and the dignity of aging and dying. Love and death pervade her fiction, as they should. And the stories are well built, with a graceful narrative arc, a fitting climax, and a satisfying resolution.

Like the stories in this book, Phyllis Binkley’s poems are arresting and rewarding. She writes of nature and the seasons, of family and friends, of aging and the present past, and very importantly of human morality and the amorality of insensitive progress. She notices small details and important moments of change. She has a sharp eye, a quick mind, and an ear for language. And a sense of wry humor when it’s called for, especially in those poems that entertain and teach as narratives.

About the Author
Phyllis Binkley is a freelance business assistant, having worked in publishing, market research, retail shop ownership, and banking. She lives and writes in Dorset, Vermont. Her first book, a collection of poetry titled The Journals of A. P. O'Clipps, was published in 2006 by Fithian Press.

Up From the Marsh
Stories and Poems
Phyllis Binkley
ISBN 978-1-56474-512-5
128 pages, cloth, $15.00

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