Before The World Lost Its Compass


Follow the experience of a talented female refugee from Syria in an American small town, a young couple who become two of the many Vietnamese boat people, and faculty who struggle in a resource poor historically black private college. Witness both the skill of a psychologist whose advice to a troubled young woman enables her to achieve notoriety as a scientist and the mischievous ways of a ladies’ man who receives his comeuppance in a most unusual way. These and other human interest themes are chronicled in this collection of short stories. The volume also includes more than thirty poems that capture images ranging from the beauty of nature to the chaos caused by human greed.

Before The World Lost Its Compass (cover)

Short Stories:

1. The Syrian Refugee (11)
2. Ever Evy (25)
3. A Legend in His Own Mind (33)
4. Two of Too Many Boat People (53)
5. The Panhandler (65)
6. A Boy’s Best and Only Friend (73)
7. The Outcome No One Expected (89)
8. Where Are All the Lawyers? (99)
9. Aki Maki (107)
10. Three Boys and Three Singers (125)

Early Poems, 1972-1978:

1. Values of the Executive (146)
2. Four Haiku of the Seasons (147)
3. Ode to My Co-Author (148)
4. Passing Moment of Beauty (149)
5. Kinst Road (150)
6. Early Summer at Hickory Hill Farm (152)
7. Awakening (153)
8. Connections Missed (153)
9. The Subordinate Society (154)
10. Renewal (155)
11. Nature’s Rigid Class Structure (155)
12. Doubt Within (156)
13. In Pursuit of Economic Humanism (156)
14. Heaven From an Airplane (157)
15. Southern Route West (158)
16. Reflections Upon a Vacuum (160)
17. Waiting (161)
18. Methodology for Thought (162)
19. Two Sides (163)
20. On Academic Anarchy (164)
21. All About Egos (165)
22. Possibility (166)
23. The Wedding Party (168)

Recent Poems, 2011-2016:

1. Sunset to Sunrise (169)
2. Missionary Success (170)
3. Origins (170)
4. Accomplishments? (171)
5. Growing Up (171)
6. Tofino (171)
7. Foolishness (172)
8. The Golden Age of the Oblivious Mind (173)
9. The Monsanto Legacy (174)
10. The Small Business (176)
11. Memories of a Friend (177)
12. Last Gift (177)
13. To My Beautiful Children (178)



Author Joseph E. Pluta
Publisher Distant Echo Press
Release Date February, 2016
Book Type Short stories & poems
Genre Fiction, Historical
Length 180 pages
Paperback ISBN 978-1522792680


Where to Find:

5 Responses to “Before The World Lost Its Compass”

  1. Melinda Cole March 13, 2017 at 1:38 am #

    This is a very readable collection of thoughtful stories and poems. I have read some of this author’s short stories before but did not realize until this book that he is also an accomplished poet. The stories capture many different human emotions while the poems cover different topics including the beauty of nature, the dumbing down of American youth, and a number of life’s frustrations. The most touching of the stories is “The Syrian Refugee” while the most surprising is “A Legend in His Own Mind”. What an ending!

  2. Barbara Frandsen October 1, 2016 at 9:34 pm #

    Reading these stories felt like having a conversation with a friend. Some of them brought discomfort and others induced laughter. Several of the tales and poems raised ethical questions. Each account reminded me of a more gentle time in our lives. I identified several favorites. One riveting story focused on two Chinese young people who fled Vietnam after the Viet Cong took over. Their courage inspired me. A second story rejuvenated my own questions concerning requests for money from street people. An uplifting story told of a young man and young woman who shared the same name but originated from different countries and cultures. Perhaps my favorite story told of three young men who became involved in the lives of Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper, and Buddy Holly shortly before their tragic plane crash.

    Each story presented a different cast of characters displayed in a unique setting. Each story or poem prompted a sensitive reaction. I strongly recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys beautifully written and caring stories.

  3. Tony Burnett July 10, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

    This new collection of stories is diverse in context and setting but true to Joe Pluta’s magnificent craftsmanship as a storyteller. The settings range from his background in academia and small town America to characters placed in international situations. The author has the ability to humanize his characters. His ability to create O. Henry-esque endings that both surprise the reader and defy the trends of ambiguity in contemporary short fiction are refreshing. I was particularly impressed with the range of the works. “Two of Too Many Boat People” explores the symbiosis of two people in crisis whereas “A Boy’s Best And Only Friend” cuts deeply into the abusive relationship between a mother and son. As if these juxtapositions weren’t enough, Pluta treats us to a range of his previously unpublished poetry. I found all the poetry well-crafted and personal but I was particularly impressed with his early work which showed a passion and intensity rarely seen today. This work is Pluta’s most varied, complex and rewarding collection to date.

  4. Barry Hadouen May 22, 2016 at 1:00 am #

    The poems in this collection are really gripping. They touch a wide range of topics from spectacular outdoor settings to human shortcomings. Among the short stories, my favorite is “The Outcome No One Expected”, a unique perspective on problems facing traditionally black private colleges. “The Syrian Refugee” is also outstanding, an unlikely yet beautiful romance. A very talented multi-dimensional author.

  5. Agnes Fuller February 29, 2016 at 10:26 pm #

    I really liked these stories and poems. The author’s writing style allows his prose to flow easily and his characters are described in detail so that it is not difficult to follow what they are all about. The book is a very enjoyable and satisfying evening companion. I recommend it to all serious readers of fiction.

Leave a Reply