For a limited time, get my collection, TOGETHER WE CAN BURY IT, Aimee Bender’s THE THIRD ELEVATOR, Liz Scheid’s THE SHAPE OF BLUE, Lena Bertone’s LETTERS TO THE DEVIL for just $40 from The Lit Pub bookstore: https://lnkd.in/bhXH2Mw
Wow. Huge thanks to David Abrams (author of the novel, Fobbit), for this beautiful review of my collection for the Riot Round-Up. I’m so happy and honored by this praise from a writer I admire so much:
I’ll keep this short: After reading Together We Can Bury It, I’m convinced there are few living authors who are better at flash fiction than Kathy Fish. She packs an incredible array of life, in all its rich complexities, into each one of the 40 stories in this 2012 collection. Unlike many short-shorts, Fish’s fiction doesn’t lean too heavily on allegory or turn characters into symbols and it rarely (if ever) leaves the reader scratching her head in “WTF?!” befuddlement. These are beautiful slices of life–little gems that, at every turn, left me feeling like I was filled with sunlight. — David Abrams
As usual, my favorite reads were published predominantly by small presses, written by writers unafraid of taking chances with their work:
I bookended the year with collections by the innovative Robert Vaughan: Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dipshits (blurbed, reviewed on Goodreads) and Addicts & Basements, also reviewed on Goodreads.
I also read and blurbed Nancy Stohlman’s book Vixen Scream and Other Bible Stories. Nancy is another original who performs her stories live as well as she writes them.
If I Would Leave Myself Behind: Stories by Lauren Becker, which I also talked about here.
Understories by Tim Horvath, which is terrific and I gave five stars to on Goodreads.
I read two Gay Degani books in 2014, her collection, Pomegranate Stories and her novel What Came Before, which I blurbed and reviewed on Goodreads. I also interviewed Gay right here and she has lots of smart things to say about writing in general.
Bald New World by Peter Tieryas, reviewed on Goodreads. This book was recently nominated for the Folio Prize in the UK.
Bones of an Inland Sea by Mary Akers, reviewed on Goodreads.
The Last Days of California by Mary Miller, reviewed on Goodreads.
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay, reviewed on Goodreads.
My Mother Was An Upright Piano by the talented and versatile writer of flash as well as longer works, Tania Hershman, reviewed on Goodreads.
Girl with Ears & Demon with Limp by Edward J. Rathke, reviewed on Goodreads.
Doll Palace by Sara Lippmann, this book was one of my favorite short story collections of 2014 and one of my favorites, ever…reviewed at The Lit Pub.
Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro, a great inspiration in 2014 and mentioned in various posts on this blog.
I reread The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (who incidentally drafted the novel in four weeks according to this article in The Guardian).
Understudies by Ravi Mangla, reviewed on Goodreads.
House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Don’t Tease the Elephants by Jen Knox. blurbed and reviewed on Goodreads.
Quarry Light by Claudia Smith Chen, reviewed at The Lit Pub.
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan. A fascinating, harrowing read.
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life by Twyla Tharp, another inspiring read, also mentioned a time or two on this very blog.
Smokelong Quarterly: The Best of the First Ten Years 2003-2013, a book I contributed to and reviewed on Goodreads.
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, reviewed on Goodreads. I loved this book so much I read it twice.
I know. I’m sorry I’ve left this blog untended. I had surgery Sept. 12th and I’m in recuperation mode. Recuperation mode is really nice at first until one starts to go seriously stir crazy. But I’m doing well and getting stronger every day and I really, really, don’t want anything to do with hospitals for a long time to come.
“These are stories filled with talk, conversations, recitations, memories, flirtations (often dangerous ones) and hard-won epiphanies I think what I love best about these stories though is their refusal to dot every i. There are no simple answers and lessons aren’t always learned. A deft writer, Lippmann displays control over her narratives even as she achieves a certain wildness and strangeness that both fascinates and feels entirely true. I love the fearlessness of these stories (see “Target Girl” and “Everyone Has Your Best Interests at Heart” and “Babydollz” and “Talisman”among others).”
One cool aspect of recommending books at The Lit Pub blog is that you’re asked to suggest other books readers might enjoy (that are similar in some way to the book you’re recommending), and I was happy to suggest Pia Ehrhardt’s Famous Fathers and Other Stories, Emma Straub’s Other People We Married, Amy Hempel’s Tumble Home, and Rachel Sherman’s The First Hurt. (I noticed later that Rachel Sherman actually wrote a blurb for Sara’s book, which is perfect.)
So. Just get this book. The stories are superb and Sara Lippmann is a terrific writer and human being. One of the kindest people I know in the lit world or any world. And oh, Dock Street Press is exceptional.
The other good news I have is that my short story, “The Wide and Lonely World” has been accepted! I was solicited to send something and did and hadn’t heard back for awhile so assumed they didn’t want the story (writers, you know the feeling), but yay, they liked it a lot and I’ll post a link and more info when the story’s up. I’m delighted. This is a story I messed with for so long, not quite knowing why it wasn’t working for me, until one day I gave myself the challenge of cutting it by 50%. Crazy! So I cut it from 5,000 words to 2,500, which required huge objectivity and mercilessness, but I did it, and the story is much better for the cutting I do believe.
And! I was surprised and thrilled that Blue Fifth Review nominated my story, “The Blue of Milk” for Best of the Net 2014. It’s a story I really liked but felt shy about sending out into the world. I’m very honored and cheered by Sam Rasnake and Michelle Elvy’s confidence in and support of the story. I posted it here awhile back.
Lastly, the website for the new MFA program that I’ll be teaching flash fiction for will be up and running soon and I’ll post a link to it here when it is. I’m VERY excited about this and proud to be a part of it. More to come!
I’m so happy to announce that my collection of flash fiction and short stories, TOGETHER WE CAN BURY IT, is in stock again at The Lit Pub and may be ordered here: Lit Pub Store along with some other gorgeous books by Liz Scheid, Aimee Bender, and more.
From my review: “The stories in Quarry Light display Smith’s lovely prose and use of specific detail as well as her gift for keenly portraying the lives of young girls and women. Particularly in her evocation of childhood, one feels as if these memories and details remain as clear and tangible and compelling to Smith as the present day. This serves the stories and the reader both.”
You can read the full review here at The Lit Pub and also find my recommendations for similar great reads by the likes of Ethel Rohan, Myfanwy Collins, and Dylan Landis.
Some things I’ve read recently by some of my favorite writers that have fired me up, taught me something, and/or inspired me and maybe you too!
This, from Paul Harding, author of Tinkers (one of my favorite novels) and Enon (which I haven’t read yet):
“Your books will suffer from bad readers no matter what, so write them for brilliant, big-brained and big-hearted people who will love you for feeding their minds with feasts of beauty.”
The rest of his 5 Writing Tips can be found here, at the Publisher’s Weekly site,
And this, from another favorite writer, Caitlin Horrocks (you should read her collection, This is Not Your City, if you haven’t yet…I reviewed it at the Lit Pub). Here is what Horrocks says about “the bad idea”:
“…as a writer, the things that are difficult are the things I want to do, and I want to encounter work as a reader that takes the same attitude. I don’t want short story writers to willingly give up any more ground, to decide before they’ve begun that the story form just can’t encompass a densely lyrical, multigenerational suspense story. With a car chase.”
The whole article, part of the Kenyon Review Credos, written by KR editors, can be found on their blog here: “The Glory of The Bad Idea.”
And lastly, this, from the lovely, generous, and extremely talented Leesa Cross-Smith, whose debut collection, EVERY KISS A WAR, is now available for pre-order from Mohave River Press (and you should get it because it’s a gorgeous book):
“I know it’s gonna sound generic, but FIND YOUR OWN VOICE. Also THERE IS ROOM FOR YOU! It can be very, very overwhelming when you see how many (other) writers there are, but there is room for you too! You have something to say, to teach! You never know how you can be a blessing to someone. And work hard at it. Never, ever give up.”
This is part of her interview at Kerry Winfrey’s Welcome to Ladyville blog as part of a series of interviews with Creative Ladies. You can read the rest here: Creative Ladies: Leesa Cross-Smith.
“Submit your best prose manuscript. We’re looking for novels, novellas, memoirs, lyric essays, lyric novels, short story collections, flash fiction or prose poetry collections, and hybrid manuscripts that include prose writing. The deadline to enter is 11:59 PM EST, June 30, 2012.”
One of my favorite short story collections that I’ve read recently is “This Is Not Your City” by Caitlin Horrocks. I recommended it for The Lit Pub. Horrocks is a writer to study. I’m particularly taken with her openings. Every story in the collection opens strongly. Here, for example is the opening of “Going to Estonia”:
“Ursula Kotinlainen left the north on January second, a Sunday. She’d already been on the bus for two hours when a boy with acne and a wispy moustache got on in Sodankyla and sat in front of her. He wiped the condensation off the window and waved frantically to an old woman outside, shouted as the bus pulled away. At a highway rest stop outside Kemi, the boy stood outside the men’s toilets puffing out great gouts of air, trying to step forward into the clouds before they disappeared. He had a strange, flat face, and as Ursula watched him choke with laughter at his own breath she thought there was something wrong with him. But it was the first time she’d seen the sun rise in over a month, and as she looked at the boy, at the haze of exhaust the idling bus exhaled, at her own breath, she could believe that there was warmth in the belly of the world.”
It’s an incredible story. This strange boy she observes so closely at the beginning of her journey will not figure into the rest of the story, at all, but what’s important here is what she observes, how she observes, and where her mind is in this moment. That is the jumping off point and already, I want to know this Ursula. All of Horrocks’ stories did this for me, in the all-important opening paragraphs.
Oh man. I’ve finally gotten around to reading a novel by Joy Williams. I’ve read her short story collections and reread them. She just floors me. But now I’m reading The Quick and The Dead. Oh it’s an odd novel. I’m not getting “caught up in the plot”. You never do with Joy Williams. You get caught up in the language, the dialogue, the places and the characters. Joy Williams is funny too. Am I the only one who thinks this? Woman makes me laugh. It’s such a wicked, biting sense of humor. I think she’d be funny to talk to.
John Minichillo told me that Joy Williams once bought him a beer. I’m so jealous.
I mean, maybe this isn’t supposed to make me laugh, but it did:
“He felt as resourceful as the Cub Scout he had once been. He hoped all his cub mates were dead, the little bastards.”
So I’m reading The Quick and The Dead very, very slowly because I love Joy Williams’ sentences. Sometimes her stories are devastating. I wonder if this novel will be devastating. I don’t get the sense that it will in the same way some of her stories are. “Honored Guest” kills me every time.
It’s Short Story Month
I love that short story month exists. I’m writing a short essay for David Abrams’ blog, The Quivering Pen. I’m thinking a lot about what short stories mean to me and it’s funny, but as a writer, I am a relative latecomer to the marvel that is the short story. I’ll say more about it on David’s blog.
In honor of short story month, I thought I’d link to a few of my stories which appear in my new collection, TOGETHER WE CAN BURY IT (I’m also going to link stories that I love by other people). That first printing sold out so fast I feel almost as if the book has disappeared. But it will be back soon and I hope lots of people read it. The thing about publishing a book, for me, is that it creates an incredible urge to go hide under the covers. What is that?
I think it’s that I feel so exposed. Uncomfortably so. And yet, I truly do want people to read my stories. Writing is my chance to speak up and say what I want to say in a fictional way. In a family of talkers and storytellers, I am the quiet one. My publisher, Molly Gaudry, at The Lit Pub has given me some author questions and I’m taking a ridiculous amount of time answering them. I have to talk about This. Writing. Myself. Myself as a Writer. And Me as a Person. It’s daunting. I go very quiet. Can I just write a story instead?
A Story by Me
One of the stories in TOGETHER WE CAN BURY IT is “Snow” which appeared originally in the lit journal, New South. The editor of New South surprised me by taking two of my more experimental stories. This one originally was one very, very long paragraph. I broke it up here, at Fictionaut, to give readers’ eyes a break. I have a sort of love affair with snow and winter. I like shorter days and the perfect, slanted light that happens around 4:30 and the way a new snow transforms a landscape and the world gradually becomes breathtakingly foreign.
Click on this pretty picture to read “Snow” by me.
…with all the books I want to read. I feel I’m always falling behind. But lists. Lists are good. And I know I’ll buy new books and chapbooks at AWP. So here’s my list. I’ll read all of these and then I’ll make a new list and then it will feel less daunting.
1. Shut Up/Look Pretty –Lauren Becker, Erin Fitzgerald, Kirsty Logan, Michelle Reale and Amber Sparks
2. The Last Repatriate –Matthew Salesses
3. Wild –Cheryl Strayed
4. Birds of a Lesser Paradise –Megan Mayhew Bergman
5. Treasure Island!!! — Sara Levine
6. Betty Superman –Tiff Holland
7. Threats: A Novel –Amelia Gray
8. Bluets –Maggie Nelson
9. Girlchild — Tupelo Hassman
Recently I read Richard Thomas’s Transubstantiate, my first ever neo-noir post-apocalyptic novel and it’s great and something I don’t have the skills for at all, so, admiration for that one. I also read Myfanwy Collins’ debut novel, Echolocation and it’s absolutely wonderful. I’ll say more about it, here, soon. I read Susan Tepper’s From the Uberplatzen: A Love Story, a tiny novel told in flashes and I’ll be interviewing her soon for Fictionaut, about one of the stories in the book.
What else? I’m currently reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I love it. It’s making me understand my quiet self so much more. There are apparently true benefits to the introverted style of being and this book feels important to me.
I’m also reading Snow Child, a debut novel by Eowyn Ivey and oh, I’m loving it. I seem particularly drawn to stories of people living in log cabins (i.e. Little House on the Prairie). The writing is beautiful and the story, sad and strange. Also, there’s lots of snow. (love the cover!)
Ohh, I do not love self-promotion, and I really suck at it, but damn, I’m so happy and so proud of this book, so bear with me here. I’ve gotten some lovely blurbs for my collection, which launches at AWP. I only asked writers I knew and who knew my writing. People who have supported me so much over the years and whose writing I admired beyond words. So thank you Pia Z. Ehrhardt, Kim Chinquee, Jennifer Pieroni, Jeff Landon, and James Robison. I am so honored and grateful. And my deepest thanks to Molly Gaudry for her extreme faith, boundless energy and incredible vision. The Lit Pub is doing amazing things and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Praise for Together We Can Bury It
“We readers are blessed to have these perfectly made stories by Kathy Fish, each one a distillation of novel-sized themes and predicaments to a heady, imperative, short short encounter, each story exact, humane, each story providing a language of music. And each the product of a writer who knows all the storms and terrors, the pathetic and somehow holy conditions of our existence. Masterworks!”
—James Robison, author of The Illustrator
“A space man untethered in the universe thinking of home. A young couple biking in the rain to a parade that must be cancelled. A woman losing her speech and balance but still leaving, she thinks, for New York. With remarkable precision, Kathy Fish champions the dreamers, believers, and lovers. If you are not one of those, you can trust Kathy Fish to show you the way back to your heart.”
—Jennifer Pieroni, editor of Quick Fiction
“Kathy Fish's Together We Can Bury It is a wonder—stories filled with sadness, humor, and longing—a slanted banged-up beauty of a world that feels like this one, only more.”
—Jeff Landon, author of Truck Dance and Emily Avenue
“Full of grace and wit, Kathy Fish's Together We Can Bury It takes one to the familiar, yet bizarre: worlds of wonder, ache, and hope. Worlds not to forget. A refreshing voice, busting of compassion, guts, and wisdom. This collection shines with amazing delight.”
—Kim Chinquee, author of Oh Baby
“There’s a movie’s worth of character and plot and insight in every blooming one of these short
fictions. I finished this book feeling stuffed, dazed, and amazed by how much Kathy Fish gets done in such tight spaces. It’s a thrill to be privy to what she thinks about, the wonder she carries inside.”
—Pia Z. Ehrhardt, author of Famous Fathers
Very excited to see my new short story collection at the Lit Pub Bookstore page with such a stellar list, including books by Aimee Bender, J.A. Tyler, Matt Bell, Andrea Kneeland, Scott Garson, Caitlin Horrocks, Miles Harvey and Ben Segal and Erinrose Mager. I seriously want to buy all of these.