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Grey Sparrow Journal and Press, as of January 31, 2018 will move to

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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by Joseph Michael Owens


  • Paperback: 100 pages: $9.99 at at:
  • Hardcover:  100 pages:  $15.99 at Grey Sparrow
  • Publisher: Grey Sparrow Press (February 1st, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983553017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983553014
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.2 inches

Words of Praise


The charm of Joseph Owens’s debut collection, Shenanigans! can be found in his voice. At heart, these are a young man’s stories of love and loss, of life and death. There’s a sincerity that flirts with retro yet feels like innovation. Each one reads like a conversation… unscathed by the unsentimental tone that too often passes for hip-ness in this day and age, yet clearly of his own time. These are honest stories.


– Karen Gettert Shoemaker, Author

                         Night Sounds and Other Stories


Shenanigans! is the textual photo-album of Anna and Ben, language made to Polaroid the gentle tangle of coupling and maturation. This is a collection wonderfully tinged with humor, beautifully tempered with landscape, and soaked in the genuine.


J. A. Tyler, Author

Girl With Oars & Man Dying                        


Joe Owens’s voice is a delight: muscular, rhythmic, and full of whizz-bang linguistic energy. His stories view the world with the kind of self-deprecating humor that makes you want to spend an afternoon just wandering around in his mind. Read Shenanigans! You’ll laugh, you’ll think… you’ll have a great time.


                             Amy Hassinger, Author

                            The Priest’s Madonna


Between Hunter S. Thompson and David Foster Wallace’s essays, Joseph Owens’s stories will take you through a caf-feinated romp through his life, its exciting highs and frightening lows. Dogs, horses, bicycles come alive with as much love and empathy as the people he holds dear. Owens’s voice, spirited, crackling with energy, is too fierce, and engaging to be ignored.  


Catherine Texier, Author

Russian Lessons, The Breakup


Book Description

Benjamin “Benji” Palko is just trying to get by, to fly under life’s radar. But random events keep impacting those he cares about most and make him question what he thinks he knows along the way.

At work, Ben gets entangled in a strange and humiliating coffee debacle that results in a trip to the Emergency Room. He has a standoff with his dog over a routine toenail trimming. A bike ride in the Rocky Mountains turns into a learning experience in dressing climate appropriately. Ben’s nunchucks-wielding neighbor provides an odd sense of calm in the wake of a rash of home invasions.

The voice in Shenanigans! is muscular, rhythmic, and full of whizz-bang linguistic energy. The stories view the world with the kind of self-deprecating humor that makes you want to spend an afternoon just wandering around in Benjamin’s mind. Read Shenanigans! You’ll laugh, you’ll think…you’ll have a great time.

The paperback is now available at for $9.99.  Click on Palko below for purchase of Shenanigans! at

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Words of Praise

I've heard that by the time Bukowski was really into the swing of things as a writer he had stopped reading much of anything because he did not feel that most of what he came across had life. It felt dead and, as such, was worthless. I can't really say for sure because I didn't know old Buk', but I believe he would have felt very differently about the writing in "Shenanigans!" If there was ever writing with life, "Shenanigans!" is it.

In some cases I mean this quite literally. The writing in "Contemptibly, A Hair" blasts out of the page with more energy than a hyperactive toddler on meth, though with much more pleasurable results. It dances, it spins, it screams. In short, it is the language equivalent of class ten rapids.

However, in other stories I mean the above comment a bit more figuratively. In "What We Talk About When We Talk About Lasagna," one of the most humorous Raymond Carver tributes I've ever seen by the way, the prose is certainly lively, but the much more impressive aspect is the way that the emotion seems to pulse with actual, organic life. Really, all that's at stake is what Ben and his wife are really arguing about when arguing about eating a pan of mostly burned lasagna. However, the way that the things that are unsaid are not said, the way the words that are there are laid out, it all seems to work inside the reader to cause the exchange of emotions to happen afresh.

All of these stories have that life, that real quality that we always turn to fiction to simulate for us, though such is not always achieved as well as in "Shenanigans!" Whether concerning a nunchaku-wielding neighbor, the mistrust between man and his best friend over the issue of nail-clipping, or a wedding proposal leading into buying more than a landlord approved number of dogs leading into a parental heart attack leading into a personal unknown health threat, these stories bring forth life for the reader. Truly, you could not ask for more.

D.S. Atkinson
Joseph Michael Owens has written for various publications including PANK Magazine, The Rumpus, The Houston Literary Review, and InDigest Magazine. His short story “We Always Trust Each Other, Except for When We Don’t” was nominated for both Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web 2011 anthology and storySouth’s Million Writers Award where it was a top 100 finalist. Joe lives in Omaha with four dogs and one wife.