G524 Book Review of Island Fog by John Vanderslice

General Information:

Name of Book: Island Fog

ISBN: 978-1-935084-41-9

Publisher: Lavender Ink

Author: John Vanderslice

About the Author:
(From the TLC)

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John VandersliceAbout John Vanderslice

John Vanderslice teaches in the MFA program at the University of Central Arkansas, where he also serves as associate editor of Toad Suck Review magazine. His fiction, poetry, essays, and one-act plays have appeared in Seattle ReviewLaurel ReviewSou’wester,CrazyhorseSouthern Humanities Review1966, Exquisite Corpse, and dozens of other journals. He has also published short stories in several fiction anthologies, including Appalachian VoiceRedacted StoryChick for a DayThe Best of the First Line: Editors Picks 2002-2006, and Tartts: Incisive Fiction from Emerging Writers.  His new book of short stories, Island Fog, published by Lavender Ink, is a linked collection, with every story set on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts.
Year it was published: 2014

Overall theme:

"A number of these houses are ownerless. Drains on some bank somewhere. Or, even if paid off, lifeless structures containing no one, not even in summer, emitting no particular energy except the scent of decay and implosion; no longer tended to, no longer repaired; only gnawed on-season after season-by the fog." (131)

1. Guilty Look

One story summary:

In Nantucket Island during 1795, a bank robbery occurs and the residents began the blame game on who might have done it and why. Although one of the residents attempts to solve the mystery, he is thwarted by higher powers at every turn.

2. King Phillip's War

One Story Summary:

In first person narrative, in 1823, Owen tries to beat Will Gibbs who is half Native American and half Irish with negative consequences.

3. On Cherry Street

One Story Summary:

In 1837, Orpha Hussey, who is married to a lost man decides reinvent herself by declaring herself a widow as well as making new friends until rumors began to resurface.

4. Taste

One Story Summary:

In 1846, Gideon Mitchell who is battling a very deadly addiction decides to visit his son and randson while reliving the tragedy that allowed him to develop it.

5.  How Long Will You Tarry?

One Story Summary:

In second person narrative from an African American woman's point of view, in 1920, the Nantucket Island and its lives are recounted, especially the decline is heavily emphasized.

6. Morning Meal

One Story Summary:

In 1999, Carpenter is over at Downy Flake where he recalls the fateful day he lost his new family and even learns an unwanted truth from one of the visitors.

7. Beaten

One Story Summary:

In first person narrative, in 2001, a man and his wife travel to Nantucket where the man engages in running and tries to compete with a stranger,  and he reflects on his life as well as his wife's depression.

8. Haunted

One Story Summary:

In 2004, a young gay man by name of Matthew does ghost tours around Nantucket Island, and while he does them, a letter comes from his former lover Alan where he is asked to be taken back into the good graces.

9. Newfoundland

One Story Summary:

In 2004, Robert, who is a very charismatic man and who also happens to be very wealthy, visits Nantucket Island with his wife where his wife tries to convince him to buy a house he doesn't want. Robert also reflects on his life and how he got where he did.

10. Managing Business

One Story Summary:

In 2005, there is focus on a Jamaican family of three, that of the mother Hosanna and her son and daughter as well as her struggles with management and living year round on the island and being different than others, especially when Hosanna's mistakes catch up with her.

11. Island Fog

One Story Summary:

Doug, a failing college age student, decides to travel to Nantucket Island for the summer and try to figure out what to do with his life when he meets a woman Jeannnie Gert and gets an invitation to a job he is unable to refuse when he finds out that his previous one is closed down.

Overall Opinion:

While I became engrossed in all the short stories I read, my favorite ones happened to be King Phillip's War and Island Fog which added fascinating layers to supernatural and prejudice. In truth this is a very powerful collection of short stories that demonstrate history of Nantucket from 1700s to 2005, and while the stories are a bit interconnected because they take place in Nantucket, I really felt frustrated because I didn't know what became of the previous characters from the previous stories which became frustrating. One of the stories, titled On Cherry Street had an atmosphere of Sarah Orne Jewett stories of a New England town at the top of wealth. I learned without feeling like I was learning, and if it was the author's goal, then he has done it very well. Overall, can't wait to see what else he will tackle!

This is for TLC Book Tours

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)


  1. Thanks for your thoughts, Svetlana. Glad I'm not a cure for insomnia!

  2. I love interconnected stories, and I love the idea of interconnecting stories over a period of a few hundred years. Thank you for being on this tour!

  3. Reading everyone's revie has me convinced I'm going to read these stories. :). Thanks for being part of the tour.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com


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