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Run

Description Billy Horn is on the run with serious mob money in a satchel. He has crossed a threshold, inhabiting an alternate existence, a heavy dream filled with menace and deception. Meanwhile, driven by Schopenhauer’s will to live, he’s caught up in his sexual fantasies and his continual need to protect that satchel, which he sees as his ticket to somewhere good. About the Author Jack Smith has published four novels: Miss Manners for War Criminals (2017), Being (2016), Icon (2014), and Hog to Hog, which won the 2007 George Garrett Fiction Prize and was published by Texas Review Press in 2008. He has published stories in a number of literary magazines, including Southern Review, North American Review, Texas Review, In Posse Review, Word Riot, and Night Train. His reviews have appeared widely in such publications as Ploughshares, Georgia Review, American Book Review, Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, Pleiades, The Missouri Review, and Environment magazine. He has published numerous articles in Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market and is a regular contributor to The Writer magazine. He has published two books on creative writing: Write and Revise for Publication: A 6-Month Plan for Crafting an Exceptional Novel and Other Works of Fiction (Writer’s Digest Books, 2013) and Inventing the World: The Fiction Writer’s Guide to Craft and Process (Serving House Books, 2018). Besides his writing, Smith was fiction editor of The Green Hills Literary Lantern, an online literary magazine published by Truman State University, for 25 years. He presently teaches for Writers.com. Praise Run is vintage Jack Smith. Billy Horn, a young loan collector in New York City, witnesses a mob shootout and grabs a satchel of cash tossed in his direction—the curse of materialism—which sends him running across America from mobsters who want their money back. He tries to live off the grid and dreams of his girlfriend and of freedom to study and write, but is haunted by protean types; a beefy cop, unbearably beautiful women and their menacing boyfriends, predatory matrons, and assassins dressed in black. Such figures are always there, no matter where. Smith is a master of present tense narration, inventive complications, and witty, disconcerting dialogue; and Billy’s experiences prove at once surreal and hilarious, much as Alice’s in Wonderland or K’s in The Trial. Read more…

Do You Know What I’m Not Telling You? and Other Stories

Description Do You Know What I’m Not Telling You? is a collection of stories about New Yorkers—a wannabe cabaret singer, a dermatologist attracted to a frustrated poet, a single man trying to adopt a baby, a lonely stay-at-home dad. They struggle with careers and family as they fall in and out of love in a city that can be frustrating—but is also romantic and alluring. About the Author Karen Wunsch has published stories and essays in Epoch, The Literary Review, Columbia Journal, the Michigan Quarterly Review, and other journals. She taught writing and literature at Queensborough Community College. She lives in New York City. Praise Do You Know What I’m Not Telling You? is a collection of stories about New Yorkers—a wannabe cabaret singer, a dermatologist attracted to a frustrated poet, a single man trying to adopt a baby, a lonely stay-at-home dad. They struggle with careers and family as they fall in and out of love in a city that can be frustrating—but is also romantic and alluring. In her brilliant new collection of stories, Do You Know What I’m Not Telling You?, Karen Wunsch writes with uncommon lucidity about the longing that goes unseen within New York City apartments, the secret solaces of lonely women on playgrounds and at work, and the loves of the lucky few. Her disarming observations of daily life— the absurd moment, the unpredicted gesture—have a wholly original charm. Like a classic song full of wit and heart, these stories will stick with you. —René Steinke, author of Friendswood Witty, poignant, and often surprising, this delightful collection is a rueful meditation on the many forms of romantic love—and a love letter to New York City. —Elisabeth Gitter, author of The Imprisoned Guest Do You Know What I’m Not Telling You? is a wonderful and perfectly titled book. The characters here all orbit each other, circle around each other and their desires, their histories, their hopes and losses and loves, as if each story were a literary pas de deux. Elegantly written, every story is finally a love story, an expression of hope, both elegant and spare, completely surprising and completely true. —W. Scott Olsen, author of A Moment with Stranger Even if you don’t live in New York, Karen Wunsch’s collection of intimate short stories will make you feel like a native. Read more…

Carnival for the Gods

Description A small rag-tag circus/carnival breaks down in the desert in southern New Mexico after a dust storm. Various members of the troupe begin to pull out—this latest disaster the last straw. Those now left have been faithful followers of Dusty, the owner, together with his long-suffering wife, Alta, former trapeze artists, with their dream of creating a show greater than The Greatest Show on Earth, a giant celebration at the heart of the city. Those left have nowhere else to go: Donovan, a giant; Curran, a midget: Billy Bigelow, a magician-cum-handyman and electrician. Into this scene of general disarray, Dusty brings Amazing Grace, who dances with snakes, and the Kid, who might be her brother. She is the one, Dusty is convinced, who will change their luck. This novel is the first of Gladys Swan’s Carnival Quintet. All five novels are available from Serving House Books: Small Wonder, Dancing with Snakes, The Dream Seekers, and Down to Earth. In addition to the Quintet, she has also published a Western Trilogy with Serving House Books: Ancestors, A Dark Gamble, and Ghost Dance. About the Author In her efforts to explore what the imagination can offer as a way of knowing, Gladys Swan has published The Carnival Quintet, a trilogy of novels set in New Mexico, and eight collections of short fiction. The two most recent collections are The Tiger’s Eye—New & Selected Stories, and Jungle, ten stories from the Sewanee Review. Her efforts extend to creating the cover paintings for a number of her books, as well as exhibiting her art work. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have been published in various literary publications here and in Europe. Praise The glimmer of hope cherished by Dusty, the leader of the carnival, and his wife Alta, fades early in this gentle allegory when the troupe becomes stranded on a New Mexico highway. Even when Dusty breaks through his normally cool reserve and backhands Alta for the first time, though, members of the moribund company only fathom their fate for moments at a time; taking their stage illusions home, they deceive themselves with uncharacteristic professionalism. Happiest are troupe members like Billy, who invariably returns to the ground after flirting with grandeur. In one chapter, Billy hopes to defy gravity and become the “Master of Up”; in the next, he confesses, “I’m a now you see it now you don’t man–coins and cards and scarfs. Read more…

Daddy Dead

Description Zoe King is an independent girl growing up in a family of strong, damaged women and a cheating, frequently absent, father. Despite the odds, and with the help of her doll, Knife, and her learning-different brother, Willy, Zoe takes on the challenges of the world with imagination, even when her life is threatened by her father and an abusive juvenile justice system. Readers who loved Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird or the tough individualism of Kya of Where the Crawdads Sing will want to read Zoe’s story. About the Author Julia Van Middlesworth earned a BA and MFA from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She’s the recipient of the New Jersey Council on the Arts fellowship, the winner of the Fish Anthology short story prize, the Sean O’Faolain short story prize and has been published in The Literary Review, Southword, The Horizon Review, Fish Anthology, Sean O’Faolain Anthology, Long Story Short, Broadside, Hibiscus, Bottomfish and The Plains Poetry Journal. Julia is a founding member of The Sourland Mountain Workshop and editor of The Sourland Mountain Review. Julia lives in Somerville, NJ, with her husband Lawrence, rescue cat Barnabus Collins and rescue dog Horatio. Praise “You’re in for a major brilliant read with Julia van Middelsworth’s Daddy Dead – right from the first paragraph. With strikingly original characters – Aunt Oink, Mother Blind, Knife, King Car, Brother Willy, Toro of the red bow-tie, the first-person narrator spins an entire world of language and imaginative wonder that is breath-taking. The linguistic vitality and imagination compels you to keep reading in dazzlement and makes you regret coming to the end lest you leave that world behind: Encore, Ms. van Middelsworth! Encore!” -Thomas E. Kennedy, author of the four novels of The Copenhagen Quartet “Daddy Dead is the astonishing first-person account of Zoe King, an eight-year-old girl with a vivid imagination whose family is coming apart. Julia Van Middlesworth brings us Zoe’s secret world–full of vision, hijinks, and dark humor. This is an unusually beautiful and unforgettable novel.” -Rene Steinke, author of: The Fires, Holy Skirts, Friendswood “You might think the precocious, luminous little girl making rough poetry out of a rotten life is all too familiar–but meet Zoe King, narrator of Julia Van Middlesworth’s Daddy Dead, and think again. She wears Knife, her punk Barbie and closest confidante, in a holster. She knows damn well what her Aunt Oink is up to. Read more…

Scenes from the Heartland: Stories Based on Lithographs by Thomas Hart Benton

Description When a contemporary writer turns her imagination loose inside the images of an iconicartist of the past, the result is storytelling magic at its best. Here are nine tales that bring to vivid life the early decades of the 20th century as witnessed by one of America’s most well-known painters. Thomas Hart Benton sketched fiddlers and farm wives, preachers and soldiers, folks gathering in dance halls and tent meetings. Though his lithographs depict the past, the real-life people he portrayed face issues that are front and center today: corruption, women’s rights, racial inequality. In these stories we enter the imagined lives of Midwesterners in the late 1930s and early 1940s. A mysterious woman dancing to fiddle music makes one small gesture of kindness that helps heal the rift of racial tensions in her small town. A man leaves his childhood home after a tragic accident and becomes involved with the big-time gamblers who have made Hot Springs, Arkansas, their summer playground. After watching her mother being sent to an insane asylum simply for grieving over a miscarriage, a girl determines to never let any man have any say over her body. Then as now, Americans have struggled with poverty, illness, and betrayal. Thesefictions reveal our fellow countrymen and women living with grace and strong leanings toward virtue, despite the troubles that face them. About the Author Donna Baier Stein is the author of The Silver Baron’s Wife (PEN/New England Discovery Award, Bronze winner in Foreword Reviews 2017 Book of the Year Award, more), Sympathetic People (Iowa Fiction Award Finalist, IndieBook Awards Finalist), Sometimes You Sense the Difference (poetry), and Letting Rain Have Its Say (poetry). She was a Founding Editor of Bellevue Literary Review and founded and publishes Tiferet Journal. Her work has been published in Virginia Quarterly Review, Writer’s Digest, Saturday Evening Post, New York Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, and many other journals and anthologies. Praise Scenes from the Heartland is an unforgettable collection, as lovely as it is honest, refusing to sentimentalize, transcending nostalgia, and looking directly at the riven, triumphant, glorious hearts of its characters. Donna Baier Stein provides a necessary reminder of everything we share, no matter how distant we may be in time or place. Read more…

Down to Earth (A Book of Improvisations)

Description The Kid wanted to do something for me—and the question was, would I let him? He’s on his way up in the world these days, and there’s no telling how high he’ll soar. I figure he’s got the goods, but when I put my mind around what he’s aiming to do, my breath catches. Really what Dusty struggled to do on the grand scale—take the world by the tail and change things at the core. It takes a kind of high-feathered ambition all right—to think you’re the one who’s going to make a difference. On the outside it looks like arrogance. And it takes a powerful imagination About the Author Gladys Swan has published six novels, Carnival for the Gods (Vintage Contemporaries Series), Ghost Dance: A Play of Voices (LSU Press, nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award), A Dark Gamble, Small Wonder, and Dancing with Snakes, as well as seven collections of short fiction. Her poetry and essays, and short stories have appeared in many literary magazines and anthologies. Much of her work is set in New Mexico, where she grew up. Though she has spent most of her career as a writer, she has devoted much of her time during the last two decades to painting and exploring the creative process. She was the first writer since the inception of the Vermont Studio Center to receive a fellowship for a residency in painting. She also received a fellowship from the Lilly Endowment for a year’s study of Inuit art and mythology and a Fulbright Award as a writer-in-residence in Yugoslavia. Her paintings have appeared as the cover art for various literary magazines and books, including the most recently published, The Tiger’s Eye: New & Selected Stories. She has twice been a Guest Writer at the Vermont Studio Center and has held residencies at Yaddo, the Chateau de Lavigny in Switzerland. the Fimdacion Valparaiso in Spain and others. She has taught literature and creative writing at various colleges and universities, notably, in the MFA Program at the Vermont College of the Arts and at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Western New Mexico University and gave the commencement address. The Carnival Quintet, an outgrowth of her first novel, is being published by Serving House Books. The first volume, Carnival for the Gods, appeared in September, 2014. She has done the cover paintings for the series. Praise Swan keeps the men and women in her sensuous, bittersweet stories dreaming and reaching, in the very best traditions of American storytelling. Read more…

The Dream Seekers

Description There it stood, all in sunlit glory, lost in the radiance of itself: towers, roofs, casements, doorways, intersecting planes of white and dazzle: the Seventh City. Beneath, the lavender glow of bluffs reflected by the sun, from which the city seemed to float, dissolve into luminous turquoise unmixed with cloud. And beyond, the peak enclosed by mist, Mt. Xibalba, home of the gods. Merely to look brought an exquisite pain—the leap of joy and longing beyond the ache in his bones, from the night, the many nights, on hard ground. The white radiance washed over him like water. Filled him, floated his heart into his eye, turned him—the Kid—into his gaze and lost him there. About the Author Gladys Swan has published six novels, Carnival for the Gods (Vintage Contemporaries Series), Ghost Dance: A Play of Voices (LSU Press, nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award), A Dark Gamble, Small Wonder, and Dancing with Snakes, as well as seven collections of short fiction. Her poetry and essays, and short stories have appeared in many literary magazines and anthologies. Much of her work is set in New Mexico, where she grew up. Though she has spent most of her career as a writer, she has devoted much of her time during the last two decades to painting and exploring the creative process. She was the first writer since the inception of the Vermont Studio Center to receive a fellowship for a residency in painting. She also received a fellowship from the Lilly Endowment for a year’s study of Inuit art and mythology and a Fulbright Award as a writer-in-residence in Yugoslavia. Her paintings have appeared as the cover art for various literary magazines and books, including the most recently published, The Tiger’s Eye: New & Selected Stories. She has twice been a Guest Writer at the Vermont Studio Center and has held residencies at Yaddo, the Chateau de Lavigny in Switzerland. the Fimdacion Valparaiso in Spain and others. She has taught literature and creative writing at various colleges and universities, notably, in the MFA Program at the Vermont College of the Arts and at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Western New Mexico University and gave the commencement address. The Carnival Quintet, an outgrowth of her first novel, is being published by Serving House Books. The first volume, Carnival for the Gods, appeared in September, 2014. She has done the cover paintings for the series. Read more…

The Best of Bumpus

Description Fifteen stories and the sixth story collection by Jerry Bumpus, the unique and celebrated master of the short story form, and the author of the much acclaimed novel ANACONDA. Twenty-four of Bumpus’s 121 published stories have been anthologized and taught in colleges from New York to San Diego. His stories and novels model the weirdness of not just our species but all species of every sort, including giant spiders and flying pigs. If a critic had to pick a dominant theme that the author obsessively explores, that theme might be: life is absurd. This is the author as fans have come to know him: bedrock real one moment and shifting sands unreal on the page opposite. Some of his characters have one foot in here-and-now certainties, while the other foot toes the lunacies of a dream, revealing tenuous connections between bizarre behavior and pure accident and the oddities of unforeseen collisions between minds conventional and minds caught in a maelstrom. Bumpus is sui generis, inhabiting a class all his own. Prepare to be delighted. Prepared to be astonished. About the Author Jerry Bumpus is Professor Emeritus at San Diego State University. He holds a BA in English from the University of Missouri, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa. He has published 121 stories, 24 of which have been anthologized. He has also published five story collections and two novels. His third novel has been brewed and is in the final stages of polishing. His work has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, The Best American Short Stories (1974 and 1975), Tri-Quarterly, The Iowa Review, and dozens of other respected journals. Praise I think of Jerry Bumpus as a king of the underground writers. I treasure a rare copy of his novel Anaconda,and have taught the story collection, Things in Place, to graduate writing students. Jerry Bumpus has a following; of it I am a devoted member. —Vance Bourjally, author of Brill Among the Ruinswhich was nominated for the National Book Award We are chilled as we shift in and out of various hostile places—mental wards, forests; or that we may confront a vicious dog who finally outwits us. [Bumpus] is masterful at arousing laughter and then drawing us in with a shaft of unexpected power. Most of the stories are, finally, conundrums, in the way that Borges’ best fiction is. Read more…

Small Wonder

Description In this second novel of Gladys Swan’s The Carnival Quintet, Curran—the small wonder of the title, at four feet one inch—receives a troubling letter from Elise, a woman he had adored long ago. Although he hadn’t heard from her in years, he is compelled to find and protect her. And thereby an adventure begins with a long trip to a carnival near a ruined city in Mexico, encountering a seductress and a wealthy bandit along the way. His real quest turns out to be finding Elise’s strange son and bringing him back through a forbidding landscape while avoiding treacherous rivals. Despite his diminutive size, Curran is a wonder. About the Author Gladys Swan has published three novels, Carnival for the Gods, (Vintage Contemporaries Series), Ghost Dance: A Play of Voices, (LSU Press, nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award), and A Dark Gamble, as well as seven collections of short fiction. Her poetry and essays, and short stories have appeared in many literary magazines and anthologies. Much of her work is set in New Mexico, where she grew up. Though she has spent most of her career as a writer, she has devoted much of her time during the last two decades to painting and exploring the creative process. She was the first writer since the inception of the Vermont Studio Center to receive a fellowship for a residency in painting. She also received a fellowship from the Lilly Endowment for a year’s study of Inuit art and mythology and a Fulbright Award as a writer-in-residence in Yugoslavia. Her paintings have appeared as the cover art for various literary magazines and books, including the most recently published, The Tiger’s Eye: New & Selected Stories. She has twice been a Guest Writer at the Vermont Studio Center and has held residencies at Yaddo, the Chateau de Lavigny in Switzerland. the Fimdacion Valparaiso in Spain and others. She has taught literature and creative writing at various colleges and universities, notably, in the MFA Program at the Vermont College of the Arts and at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Western New Mexico University and gave the commencement address. The Carnival Quintet, an outgrowth of her first novel, is being published by Serving House Books. The first volume, Carnival for the Gods, appeared in September, 2014. She has done the cover paintings for the series. Read more…

Miss Manners for War Criminals

Description Dean Troost is working on his master’s thesis in history and can’t seem—even though he realizes he must—to get beyond counting the war dead from the present war and innumerable past wars. The novel turns on the question of whether or not war is a crime itself, and whether the rationalizations offered for it are not dodges and deceptions to put a smiling face on an ugly truth. About the Author Jack Smith’s satirical novel Hog to Hog won the 2007 George Garrett Fiction Prize and was published by Texas Review Press in 2008. His novel Icon was published by Serving House Books in 2014. His novel Being was also published by Serving House Books, in 2015. He has published stories in a number of literary magazines, including Southern Review, North American Review, Texas Review, X-Connect, In Posse Review, and Night Train. His reviews have appeared widely in such publications as Ploughshares, Georgia Review, American Book Review, Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, Pleiades, the Missouri Review, and Environment magazine. He has published a few dozen articles in both Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market and The Writer magazine. His creative writing book, Write and Revise for Publication: A 6-Month Plan for Crafting an Exceptional Novel and Other Works of Fiction, was published in 2013 by Writer’s Digest Books. His coauthored nonfiction environmental book entitled Killing Me Softly was published by Monthly Review Press in 2002. Besides his writing, Smith was fiction editor of The Green Hills Literary Lantern, an online literary magazine published by Truman State University, for 25 years. Praise Miss Manners is a work of exuberant genius.  Jack Smith is fully in stride, from Dean’s decent and muddled voice, and his gropings of conscience, to the intellectual bite of his anti-war theme, to the wonderfully distinct voices of his crowd of characters. —DeWitt Henry, author of The Marriage of Anna Maye Potts and Safe Suicide Jack Smith has written a darkly comic novella, in equal measures poignant and surreal. The extended dialogue at his hellish family reunion reminds me of the opening scenes of The Graduate, with characters we may wish we didn’t recognize from our own lives: the overbearing uncles, the soldier who, returned from the war, is on the verge of a spontaneous combustion, the graduate student who can’t find a topic for his master’s thesis. Read more…