A Fine Romance & Other Stories focuses on love relationships of one kind or another and involves a variety of intertextuality or implied texts within texts. For example, one story interacts with Kafka's "Metamorphosis." Another with the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Another with three films by Jean-Luc Godard. The title story, about a romance novelist, has the text of the novel being written interacting with the real time text the narrating novelist is living in. There's a touch of epistolary text in a story about a woman writing a letter from jail to her sister. There's a story about a man reading the novel his wife has been writing about her marriage to that man now reading the narrative in secret and on the computer. And in the final story, there is the text of a woman writing postcards to her husband, while she does a world tour all by herself—the husband worrying if those postcard texts will cease and his wife never come back. These stories are vivid and varied in their lyric realism or, at times, urgent fantasy.
Praise for John Allman's other books:
"John Allman is master of the packed, surprise phrase, the sharp insight, intense articulated moment. From 'prickings of consciousness' which Baudelaire identified as the core of the prose poem, stories cross thresholds, opening up wide vistas. They call us out and into a fascinating country where the unexpected clicks into place. From these deep, 'broken,' musical narratives real life rises and gleams. I admire this collection enormously. --Brian Swann
"Allman is among the first rank of American poets––he holds his place for his consistently fine ventures into new forms and ways of seeing." Reamy Jansen––The Bloomsbury Review
"..the lyric mode proves him to be a poet of rare expansiveness and imaginative gifts." -- Publishers Weekly on Scenarios for a Mixed Landscape
"Curve Away From Stillness ...is a book for people who have time for reading, and re-reading, and closing the book and taking it up again, perhaps with colored pencils to trace the complexity of the metaphor webs, the Shandean simultaneities, the recitatives, the arias, the ensembles... . it is a love poem, and the complex and delicate metaphoric structure of the book, taken as a whole, is the lover's dance between the beloved and the universe."
Marion Stocking-- Beloit Poetry Journal
"Allman uses the formal powers of verse to bring shapeliness and elegance to the random mess of his own remembered experience.... Loew's Triboro is an eloquent meditation on the way mind, body, language, and desire get infused with the ghostliness of popular culture, stories and pictures inhaled in the dark." Roger Gilbert––Michigan Quarterly Review
"Allman goes back and forth between specificity and grand statement effortlessly, as though the speaker is not so much part of the landscape—the weather, the birds, the grains of sand we feel beneath our toes—as he embodies it. As our masterful author puts it at the end of 'Watching Weather' as he watches snow on TV, the poems resemble a lake effect, 'careless as the kiss of a stranger.' "Daniel Nester-- Bloomsbury Review on Lowcountry
"I say this rarely about contemporary poetry books: Inhabited World is a truly major collection." --Dick Allen, American Book Review
" Allman's imagination is capable of startling maneuvers, but he always holds to the track of the poem's subject." -- Billy Collins, American Book Review
"[Allman] handles his narratives the way somebody might set about untying a formidably knotted piece of rope, grabbing hold of an end and following it back and forth, under and over as it twists and turns on itself, but never losing sight of the fact that the thing is finally, all one piece… Nothing in this world presents such an unyielding, ordinary face that Allman can't recover something strange and wonderful from it." ––The Washington Post on Descending Fire and Other Stories