A Review of ‘Back To The World’ by James Shaffer.

This is a beautifully written, action-packed tale of a father and son, trying to reintegrate back into society after being away at war. Their responses couldn’t be more different. Father Tom sinks rapidly into alcoholism and gambling in a sorry, ineffective attempt to numb his pain and cope with life “back in the world,” bringing trouble to the family’s door in the form of a loan shark named Ed.

Johnnie attempts to control a hazardous situation by taking devise action, sending his hapless father off to Chicago, with a bag of money. Tom is adept at creating chaos at every turn, and some of his actions leave you wanting to throttle him.
Meanwhile, Johnnie changes his name to Jake and then sets off on a wild road trip to New Mexico. The whole story racks up several notches when he is picked up by a bunch of good time loving cowgirls in 1960’s T-Bird convertible.

“I was on the run. The bottom of my knapsack held twenty thousand dollars a fully loaded colt. 45 magazine-fed, semi-automatic pistol and an accountant’s ledger. She didn’t know that. They say that what you don’t know won’t hurt you. They are probably right, but it can get you killed. I learned that hard lesson in another life. Back in the world now, the same lesson applied. I added a wink to my smile.”

These girls are far more dangerous than they look, and Ed and other members of the interstate crime organisation are hunting Tom and Johnnie down to stop themselves from being killed and bring back the stolen money.

It was a hell of a road trip, which I enjoyed very much! Highly recommended.


small book:





Wild Montana

When I was younger there always seemed to be a western on TV in the background.  As a little girl if I had been good all day, I got to stay up for an extra hour before bedtime to watch Bonanza or The High Chaparral. It was an innocent time, when no-one even questioned why our heroes were shooting at the Indians… that’s just the way it was; and someone had to be the bad guy.

As a teenager I moved on to Alas Smith and Jones, and what fun they had cracking safes and robbing trains! Eventually I becoming a fan of the coolest guy to ever wear a cowboy hat; the amazing Clint Eastwood, who is said, never to have had that poncho washed for the entire spaghetti western series… just to keep in character.  imagine how  uncomfortable that was, in all of that heat?

So my love of guys in cowboy hats continues to this day, but it all began with a certain mister Gable and one of my all-time favourite movies, Boomtown with Claudette Colbert and Spencer ‘nice- but totally resistible’ Tracey. But enough of this waffle! Here is my own cowboy themed poem Wild Montana…

Wild Montana

Here in the present,

Living in the past,

Last week,


Back there again,


For the sarcasm to start.

Her spiteful eyes, gleaming,

Vicious mouth screaming,

Wife, life, wife.

My lover, he says,

He’s leaving for Montana.

Abandoned yet again!

My life is secretly suspended,

While waiting for his calls.

Not long now, he murmurs,

But, she glares back,

Feverish with fury,

Destroying the last seconds,

Whilst he’s still with me.

I think of Montana,

Wild and untamed.

Seeing photos he sends me,

I feel a little closer,


He’s out there –

Drinking and riding,

Wild horses and women,

Like Clark Gable –

Without a cowboy hat.

He calls me, desperately;

Needing money to escape,

Will he really leave her?

Naturally, he says.

And for a split second,

I believe him,

Buying back into the old dream,

Of wild, untamed Montana:

It feels a lot like love,

But it’s as real as his cowboy hat.

First published in contemporary Literary Horizon 2014 in English & Romanian

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