Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Review Contest: House of Skin by Kiana Davenport

I normally don't jump on bandwagons, but I followed the J.A. Konrath blog post on Kiana Davenport with great interest. After Davenport, a well-received writer of literary fiction that touches on the erotic and romantic, wrote a touching email to Konrath about her depression and experience as a writer, Konrath encouraged his readers to discover her work for themselves.

While much of the writing blogosphere focused on the power of a Konrath consideration (her short story collection, House of Skin, moved up by 40,000%+ within a day of Konrath's post), what I found most amazing about her book, House of Skin, is that I had never read any of her work before, and wondered why on earth I'd never heard of her.

Priced at an obscene bargain at $1.99 on Kindle, House of Skin is one of those books that gets - pardon the pun - under your skin and slinks into your mind, inhabiting it during quiet moments and mulling over the stories from different angles. Davenport's stories have appeared in some of the best anthologies in literary fiction, from The Pushcart Prize Stories to The Best American Short Stories and Story Magazine itself.

The title story, "House of Skin," is worth the $1.99 cover price alone (really, it's worth so much more...). Lyrical and sensorial, yet stripped down like a Ray Carver story, it conveys so much with such economy of words, but a plethora of images. I was not expecting the end (no spoilers, so don't worry) and my emotional response was in tandem with that of the main character - Davenport evoked in me, the reader, what she shows in her protagonist. Remarkable writing.

In "Her Walking Stick," Davenport's imagery in sentences like "Mama hears them in bed at night, frenzied bodies shaking the wall so Jesus turns sideways on his crucifix" build instant pictures in the reader's mind carrying the story forward frame by frame like a story board with rich narrative as an added layer, each playing off the other.

Amazon classifies House of Skin as erotica, and I can see why, yet it is literary erotica, with an elegance and simplicity that conveys timelessness and a foreign enchantment to all Davenport describes. House of Skin inspired me to buy more books by Kiana Davenport, and in this brave new world of indie publishing, Konrath has not just done one writer a great service, but he has also served readers well by bringing Davenport to the attention of so many.

Available on:


Enter to win a free Kindle copy of House of Skin - all you have to do is friend me on Facebook: Harper Alibeck.

That's it! One winner will be randomly chosen to receive a copy of the book - I'll use the Kindle book gift program to do it, so make sure you either have a Kindle or that you've downloaded the Kindle free app to read books on your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android or Blackberry.

Good luck! Winner will be announced here on Sunday, April 10!


  1. Thanks for this review. I brought this to read. A brand new authour to enjoy.

  2. Thank you for your wonderful review, and for buying my book HOUSE OF SKIN PRIZE-WINNING STORIES. You inspire me to hurry and complete my next collection. But more important to follow Joe Konrath and 'Pay it forward' with other writers. If you have any questions on writing please go to my Amazon Kiana Davenport Author Page and I will answer them in any way I can. (Website in progress!)

    I wish you much success! Thought for the day for writers: LEAP! AND THE NET WITH APPEAR! With alohas....Kiana Davenport

  3. Kiana, thanks so much for your comment! I absolutely love the stories and eagerly await your new work. I wasn't sure how to reach you, so now I know - may your readership continue to grow. Your very original voice needs to be read widely.