Psycho Babble and the Consternations of Life

Psycho Babble and the Consternations of Life

Canadian Poetry; Hidden Brook Press; Canada; Canadian Literature; publishing;; Devour; Devour: Art & Lit Canada; Find all of our mags; “Devour” and “The Ambassador” –


Richard M. Grove


Author: Richard M. Grove

Title: Psycho Babble and the Consternations of Life

ISBN: 978-1-894553-80-3 = 9781894553803 – Soft cover

Trade Paperback: 84 pages – 6 X 9 

Suggested Retail (Paperback): $9.95

Genre: Fiction, Short Stories, Canadian

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50 Words

Some would say Psycho Babble and the Consternations of Life is existential psyco babble written by a troubled mind. Others would say, even though the protagonist sticks a gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger, that this collection of poems and short stories is a profound statement about living.


202 Words

Even though Psycho Babble and the Consternations of Life has a complicated existential leaning it has it humourous side. In the story “The Glen Manor Inn” a rustic old house is burned to the ground. Everyone got out safe including the naked lady that was fleeing the building – “… and the image of Mrs. Norman’s alabaster bum dashing down the lane into the dark bushes.” stood out as a fun moment. “H – E – Double Hockey Sticks” is a profound story of life about an abused boy who writes a letter of forgivness on a paper sail boats and lets his anxiety drift down the river out of sight. This collection of shortstories is sprinkled with some proufoundly well written poems that will make the reader wonder about the complications of life and how they shape our being. The book ends with the story “Cold Steel” where a tired, beaten-by-life character, puts the barrel of a gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger. “Sucking air through the barrel he slowly, ever so slowly, with deliberate hesitation pulls the trigger. This time all the way.”  This story of despair will make every reader realize that there is something to live for.






Richard M. Grove writes Psycho Babble and the Consternations of Life in a unique and refreshing voice. He constructs a wonderful personality in a narrator who comes across as both interesting and pleasing to read. His dialogue is natural and never seems forced. Yet this craftsmanship is not merely limited to the narrator, as Grove creates (or perhaps captures) an ensemble of characters who are fashioned with a skillful and sensitive hand. Every character, lovable or otherwise, is brimming with life and seems hardly contained within the page.

            This is a collection about life. It is about growth and about the journey along the way, where one may not always find the answers being sought after, but will continue to search. The characters either find answers or they don’t, they grow or they don’t, but either way they must journey forward. These are stories about moving on, about beginnings and endings, which Grove bluntly points out in one of the interspersed poems, writing, “The more things end/The more we find ourselves at the start”. There is never an ending without a new beginning. This makes the medium of the book, which is a collection of short stories and poetry, an appropriate reflection of the themes held within.

            Psycho Babble and the Consternations of Life is full of stops and starts, but the overwhelming feeling of the natural procession of things is never lost. There is a tremendous emphasis placed upon the passing of time. It even pervades the very setting, where “Clouds wander gracefully from the northeast over spring-filled hills. Toes tap to a song that swims through mind like a leaf gliding on glistening ripples of a gentle creek.” The clouds are moving slowly forward, and toes tap a rhythm that may only exist in the mind, but still counts out time as surely as the undulations of a swaying pendulum. The reader is never free from the constant ticking of the clock, placing each second steadily behind us. The stories must continue, and do so with turns both serious and comical, making the book a delightful and enjoyable read.


Anthony Donnelly

Author, Editor



Psycho Babble and the Consternations of Life is written in the voice of hope. Sad and frustrating moments turned my thought to the value of life.

James T. Fisher

Author, teacher



This is a thought provoking, well crafted book, that will make you stop and realize that life is worth living and we are all in a better place than what suicide can offer.

Jill Anderson,

High school teacher, reader and want-to-be writer



In the preface, Grove describes his own journey through life with times of psycho babble and consternation to a place of relative peace and harmony, “All of the other stories and poems … are about the cycles of life, challenges and growth.” “The Glen Manor Inn”, the introductory tale, is a nostalgic memoir of summer days filled with sunsets, picnics, dances and parties. But the mood quickly changes in “Getting Married” with a soon-to-be husband and wife arguing as they ride a bus to city hall.

            At the beginning of “Aquarium Life”, the first of five short stories that feature the thrice-divorced Will Farnaby, Will tells his friend Frank, “Everyone including you is trapped in their own little lives.” Will admits that all his life he’s felt like a gold fish trapped in a gurgling aquarium. “A long time ago”, he says, “I learned not to bump into my glass prison walls.”

Most of Grove’s characters are struggling to make sense of their lives and ease the perpetual pain they live in. The most touching story for me, “The Inner Voice” introduces Andy, a hitch hiker, longing to get home, while he recalls the mantra of his meditation teacher, “to live in the harmony of now”. When he’s finally offered a ride, he’s disturbed by his benefactor’s negativity. He cautions the driver that his cough will only be the death of him if that is what he wants. “Are you sure you want to hinge your idea of life to your dire prediction? Just for an experiment, why not change the prediction to something positive?”

            Grove’s poetry also changes from the warm recollection of “Dead Weight” which describes a boy acting as an anchor holding down a mattress in a pickup truck. “The clouds were the biggest thrill/ of all, hanging motionless/ as I rattled nowhere, down/ the dry gravel road.” The other poems “Orbit of Violence”, “The Chosen One” and “The Stiffening Ruts of Discontent” paint a different picture – not a childhood filled with promise and joy – but an adulthood of disappointment and despair. “The constant grumbling of discontent/ the snarls and huffs of judgement/ are the utter and sad norm for him.”

Grove has successfully found a way to tell of his own life experiences without preaching or whining and that’s a challenge all writers face.


Merle Amodeo

Author of, Call Waiting



Knowing Richard Grove personally, I found it hard to reconcile this rather dark collection of short stories, vignettes, and poems with his natural ebullience and general joie‑de‑vivre. This book therefore, becomes an even more telling account of the stark fears that even the most high spirited of us must overcome, not only to be successful, but to merely get through our daily grind.

The opening story, “The Glen Manor Inn”, sets the stage for wholesale loss when old, happy ways of life are changed in the most brutal, abrupt and final fashion; this story portends the subtle downward spiral of life that runs through the book, culminating in its concluding story “Cold Steel”. Marriage gets off to a rocky start in “Getting Married”, with a couple fighting in the bus on their way to City Hall. H‑E‑L‑L is a shocking tale of child abuse by a grandparent, and of its consequences. And the loser‑life of Will Farnaby in the last five linked tales demand that we take notice; given his circumstances, could we all end up like Will?

In between these anchoring stories, lie interesting shorter pieces that contribute to the edgy theme. Two poems take us to Cuba to ruminate on a dying dog and a soon‑to‑be‑dead pig, one a victim of the socio‑economic system the other subjugated to the local dietary order. In another, “Koi in Perpetual Promenade,” the poet studies exotic Koi imprisoned in a giant fish‑tank in a restaurant as he waits for his meal to arrive – also of fish. Only one story offers a solution: the meditations of Andy in “The Inner Voice” – yet his listener does not get the meaning of “living in the now”, the answer to shutting out the psychobabble and avoiding the consternation.

Grove skirts the boundaries of personal experience and relationships that have heavily influenced the writing: “Stiffening Ruts of Discontent” and “Orbit of Violence” hint to this. Yet the writer deflects the personal over to the metaphorical by likening these flawed relationships to cloddy mud ruts hardening in the sun or to the elliptical moons of Jupiter.

I was reminded of Kafka while reading this book and it made me wonder if that manic genius would have stuck to writing his despondent masterpieces if he had been published during his lifetime? Therefore Mr. Grove – you who are more published than the living Mr. Kafka ever was ‑ why is your portrayal of life such a downer?

I would have liked to have seen Will Farnaby’s companions: his friend Frank, his unnamed brother and his many wives speak up and show him a better way; instead, they remain silent throughout and makes one wonder if they are figments of Will’s imagination. I would have liked the poem “The More Things End” to be the central theme of this book, conveying hope: that as much as darkness descends today, tomorrow will come a new morning. But that is because I choose not to succumb to psychobabble and the consternations of life. And therefore, I wish to thank Mr. Grove for reminding me of what a hard challenge it is to do that. Ah…but that may have been his Machiavellian motive after all!


Shane Joseph

author of Fringe Dwellers

and  Redemption in Paradise




Canadian Poetry; Hidden Brook Press; Canada; Canadian Literature; publishing;; Devour; Devour: Art & Lit Canada; Find all of our mags; “Devour” and “The Ambassador” –