Home Truths by Ryan K. Guth: A Review

Eli Francis photo




Amanda L. Pugh



Have you ever gone into a shadowy, dusty attic and started to explore all the corners for hidden treasures? Have you ever found a trunk tucked away in one of those corners that, when you opened it, revealed layers upon layers of memories? You pick up each one, looking it over with a touch of wetness in your eyes and a smile on your face, remembering each person and the moments they recall as you lay each one aside in turn and pick up the next in the stack…


This is the journey on which Home Truths will take the reader. Ryan K. Guth’s debut literary offering is enjoying its second release this August from Transcendent Zero Press, and even if you do not consider yourself a reader, you will be when you pick up this volume. The author’s recounting of his childhood in Ohio, his colorful and memorable relatives, and the family funeral home business will have the reader who chooses this work charmed, delighted, and inexorably drawn in.


A standout piece, “Hurricane Wilma” (page 20) describes his aunt-who was a unique, vibrant character, living her life the way she wanted and not heeding the dictates of the time in which she lived. Another vibrant piece, “Unk” (page 26) starts off by describing a visit to a family cemetery and puts the reader right beside young Ryan and his uncle as they visit three family graves and tend to their maintenance. Later in the piece, we see Unk make a herculean effort to transplant a beloved tree for an beloved nephew. This piece is poignant in its power, again, putting the reader right beside Ryan and his relative on what might seem an ordinary day, but made extraordinary and vivid by Guth’s narrative efforts. (Does the tree make it? Well, you will have to read the book to find out-I’m not telling).


The parents of course make appearances throughout Home Truths, and in the piece “Useable Family” (page 36), the reader enjoys a simple, tender moment between them in a letter from father to mother shortly before their marriage. The entire section in which this letter appears is a window to a family’s soul and all the assorted ups and downs of the family experience, made up of letters from one member to another, complete with Guth’s notes at the bottom of each one about what paper and ink they appear in originally- which is a lovely touch that makes you feel as if you were opening a scrapbook found in that attic trunk and grazing your fingers over those faded letters firsthand.


Throughout this book of poetry and prose, you are taken to Ohio and introduced personally to the author’s family-sharing in the frustrations of his father, often kept from his passion for writing by familial obligations (an obstacle faced by many a writer), you will laugh with recognition, at the antics of his Aunt Wilma and her family, and you will root for the family funeral home business to stay alive (no pun intended). It is a clear, shining window into a domain that will seem familiar to us all, a slice of life that we have all tasted at some point in our existence. The author extends the audience an invitation to get to know his family through this collection, and we should accept it, sit down, stay a while, and enjoy the memories.




‘Home Truths’ will be published by Transcendent Zero Press in August 2018





Amanda L. Pugh

Amanda Pugh is an adjunct professor of communications at Jackson State Community College in Jackson TN. She has been writing for as long as she can remember, both short stories and poetry, and it’s one her favorite things to do besides drink coffee and teach. Her work has appeared in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Tennessee’s Best Emerging Poets, Our Jackson Home, Down in the Dirt, and Spilled Ink (the literary journal of Jackson State Community College).

Contact: [email protected]

Editor review

1 Comment

  1. Robert Onimus May 29, at 10:43

    To be honest I’ve never been a “big” reader but on occasion I do pick up a book, normally a Tom Clancy type story teller or something with historical content, but after reading Amanda’s review I may very well try something new.


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