Review by Alan Catlin: A Room Above a Convenience Store by William Taylor Jr.

review first published in, Issue No. 37, Winter 2024

William Taylor, A Room Above a Convenience Store, Roadside Press, available from 2023, 88 pages, $15

Taylor’s latest collection spans the pandemic years and a time of personal health crisis involving serious heart surgery. Perhaps, the most effective ones involve people he meets during his recovery after the surgery. These pieces are both surreal, oddly funny, and totally believable. Taylor sees a young woman, a pretty girl as he says, reading a big volume of poems on the train he is commuting to work on. He wistfully thinks of how alive the poets words are even now and that maybe someday he might be worthy of that kind of audience. Mostly what Taylor is, is a keen observer of modern life. San Francisco is microcosm of the country filled with tourists who look at stuff but don’t see anything, who don’t understand are the barbarians at the gate ordering complicated drinks at the bar they don’t give tips for after they get them. His wandering through the Tenderloin at 3AM yields an evocative picture of how even the lives of low lives, miscreants, petty thieves and the homeless have changed over the years. A man is riffling a parking meter that only takes credit cards, for coins, says it all.—Alan Catlin, author of Bar Guide for the Seriously Deranged and many others

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