Kinsella’s Crow’s Breath is as fine a collection of short fiction as we are likely to have this year
Peter Pierce, Age/SMH, 23 May 2015. http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/crows-breath-review-john-kinsellas-fine-collection-of-short-stories-20150518-gh2hxe.html#ixzz3ccbzgXEq
From a literary perspective, the collection excels within the conventions Kinsella subverts in other prose works – offering the same kind of contrast and pleasure as reading Joyce’s Dubliners after Ulysses. These are well-crafted short stories, full of the pleasures the best short stories offer – twists, moments, epiphanies. They inhabit a wide range of modes, most commonly the gothic and realist. They are united in their concise intensity.
Many of Kinsella’s characters are brutal, but is this cause or effect? Perhaps humans are simply unsuited to living in these haunted places, whether here in the wheat belt or on the coast of Ireland or in Ohio. In “Sleeper”, it’s only when a train-traveller becomes an eagle and flies “over the sand made from shells ground down over the millions of years since this place was an inland sea, the bluebush” that the beauty of the “treeless place” is revealed.
The Saturday Paper, May 16 2015
Kinsella’s work is magnificent, raw; the words coming together in form and shape to evoke the essence of the moment in time he is creating.
The stories that make up John Kinsella’s Crow’s Breath are remarkable for their brevity or, more specifically, for their ability to condense whole worlds — the social lives of small towns, complex family relationships, histories and hauntings — into a few short pages. Few of the stories are more than five pages long, yet they are dense enough, and allusive enough, to resonate much further and conjure narratives that extend beyond the limits of the text.
Fiona Wright, The Australian 20 June 2015