City Quartet #1LinerWednesday #BookReview

I am pleased as Punch to start off the blog book tour for Michael Williams’ four-book set, The City Quartet! I love this writer’s work. I would read anything he wrote. Srsly, folks, I mean this is OMG territory.

Williams was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and spent much of his childhood in the south central part of the state, the red-dirt gothic home of Appalachian foothills and stories of Confederate guerrillas. Through good luck and a roundabout journey he made his way through through New England, New York, Wisconsin, Britain and Ireland, and has ended up less than thirty miles from where he began. He has a Ph.D. in Humanities, and teaches at the University of Louisville, where he focuses on the Modern Fantastic in fiction and film. He is married, and has two grown sons.

If you only read one book this year, let it be these four.

Each book stands alone, and they can be read in any order, but I think they’re best as a set, and I’m glad I read them in the order I did:

  • Trajan’s Arch
  • Vine
  • Tattered Men
  • Dominic’s Ghosts

Set in a fictional city that bears an uncanny resemblance to Louisville, Kentucky, all four books center on a handful of years, a handful of characters, and a handful of settings. The core settings are the soon-to-be-defunct movie theater downtown, the park just south of downtown (specifically the outdoor theater where free plays are performed every summer), further south to the intersection known as Fourth and Fellini because of the crew of non-traditional characters who hang out there, the bar and the bookstore, and on further south to the university. All these settings are connected by the cord of Fourth Street, with the blood of the story flowing back and forth over the chapters, the books, and the years.

The publisher designates these books as magic realism, which Merriam-Webster defines as:

a literary genre or style associated especially with Latin America that incorporates fantastic or mythical elements into otherwise realistic fiction

I’m not certain that really describes these books. I’m not entirely certain how I would describe them, or if they can even be described.

I know many of my readers believe that literary fiction is fiction in which nothing much happens, and they know I disagree. A lot happens in these books, both to the characters and within the characters. Much of what happens – or seems to happen – is fantastic and/or mythical. But is it really, actually happening within the world of the books, or is it the imagination of one character or the mass hallucination of more than one, or is it symbolic of something deeply internal, or…?

This makes it sound as if the books are hard to follow, but they aren’t. From each opening sentence, Williams pulls you through the story with dovetailed incident and compelling characters. Each book adds layers to what happens in the other books. They each and all bear thinking about, and each and all bear re-reading.

I can’t tell you much detail, because all the details are important. I will tell you, though, that my two favorite characterizations are the sometimes-central T. Tommy Briscoe (who is, among other things, a homeless Elvis impersonator), and a cameo by a university professor named Michael Williams, who has a beautiful wife.

Long-time readers know how cheap thrifty I am, so it says something that I had purchased two of these books when they came out under a different imprint; then, when Seventh Star took over the publication and put out all four, I bought the whole set. I could have scored free eBooks of all of these in return for an honest review, but I bought four books in print, two of which I already owned. That’s how much I love these books.

Even the covers are made to fit together thusly:

Follow the tour, buy and enjoy the books, and join me in this world, so familiar and so strange.

Tour Schedule and Activities

4/29 Marian Allen, Author Lady https:/ Review

4/29 The Literary Underworld Guest Post

4/29 Armed With a Book Guest Post

4/30 The Book Junkie Reads . . . Author Interview

5/1 MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape Author Interview

5/2 Joel Harris Review

5/3 The Book Lover’s Boudoir Review

5/4 Sheila’s Guests and Reviews Guest Post

5/5 Jazzy Book Reviews Guest Post

5/6 Willow Writes and Reads Review

5/6 The Seventh Star Blog Guest Post

Tour Page URL:

Amazon Links for Dominic’s Ghosts

Print Version:

Kindle Version:

Barnes and Noble Link for Dominic’s Ghosts:

Amazon Links for Vine – An Urban Legend



Barnes and Noble Link for Vine – An Urban Legend:

Amazon Links for Trajan’s Arch



Barnes and Noble Link for Trajan’s Arch:

Amazon Link for Tattered Men



Barnes and Noble Link for Tattered Men:

This post is also part of Linda G. Hill’s weekly blog hop, One-Liner Wednesday. If you have a one-liner or just like them, follow the link.

A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Something happens that may not have happened.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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