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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…

Jungle: Stories from The Sewanee Review

Description Among Gladys Swan’s many short story publications, a number of the most significant have appeared in The Sewanee Review, the oldest, continuously published literary magazine in America. Now they are collected for the first time, together with the prize-winning story, “Jungle.” About the Author Gladys Swan has published four novels—Carnival for the Gods (Vintage Contemporaries Series) and a trilogy set in New Mexico, where she grew up—A Dark Gamble; Ghost Dance: A Play of Voices (LSU Press) and Ancestors.  She has also published seven books of short fiction, including The Tiger’s Eye: New & Selected Stories. Her poetry and essays have appeared in many literary magazines and anthologies.  Though she has spent most of her career as a writer, she has spent much of her time during the last two decades to painting and exploring the creative process. Praise I have long thought that Gladys Swan is one of the best short story writers in the country, and this fabulous collection serves to confirm my belief.  Her stories are beautifully textured, infinitely mysterious and, above all, elegantly written.  The only thing more impressive than her prose may be her knowledge of the human heart. —Steve Yarborough, author of The Realm of Last Chances It’s a joyful gift to have this collection. Every year, my students savor “Carnival for the Gods,” the perfect introduction to how, throughout her long writing life, Swan has done what Chekhov asked, to “tirelessly apprentice yourself to your strongest narrative instincts.” Each of these splendid stories puts on high exhibit Gladys Swan’s devotion to that very thing. Read more…

The Miscreant: Selected Stories 1949-2016

Description Having lived under and outlasted two globe-girdling empires, the Portuguese and the British, Victor Rangel-Ribeiro considers himself to be a pre-postcolonial writer, one of the last survivors of a dying breed. His new volume of short fiction includes 15 stories plucked from a long and illustrious career that began in the early 1940s, and is still ongoing. Seven stories deal with life in India; seven with the immigrant experience in New York. The fifteenth, “Dear J.C.,” takes us back twenty one centuries, to a Roman colony at the time of Cesar Augustus and Herod the Great. The collection thus spans continents and lifestyles as well as centuries. Although several stories share a common thread, no two stories are alike. Love features in some—from lust to self-delusion to poignant loss in the novella, “Loving Ayesha.” Other stories contrast the innocence of youth with the problems of old age. A number are very funny. In this collection, Victor Rangel-Ribeiro embraces a unique range of subjects, moods, and emotions, a diversity that reveals a master of story telling. About the Author Victor Rangel-Ribeiro was born in Goa, India, in 1925, when it was still a Portuguese colony, but he moved to Bombay in British India to complete his university studies, before moving to the United States in 1956 and becoming an American citizen. Having outlived two empires, the Portuguese and the British, at age 91 he now claims to be one of a vanishing breed of pre-postcolonial writers: His earliest stories appeared in print in colonial Bombay in the 1940s; he is still writing today, often far into the night. Rangel-Ribeiro’s short fiction has appeared in such prestigious literary magazines as the Iowa Review, the North American Review, and The Literary Review, and also in his native India. His debut novel, Tivolem, set in Goa in 1933, won Milkweed’s National Fiction Prize and was declared by Booklist to be one of the twenty best first novels of 1997-98. Loving Ayesha, a short story collection, was published by Harper Collins (India) in 2003. Both Tivolem and Loving Ayesha made that country’s best seller list. Rangel-Ribeiro writes with equal facility of life in colonial times in India, and life in the United States from the immigrant point of view. Read more…

The Fifth Eye: A Collection of Fiction and Creative Nonfiction

Description This debut story collection depicts a wide range of compelling characters and their worlds: a hermaphrodite falling in love, a veteran Marine’s “piercing” attempt to cope with PTSD, preparations for the anticipated destruction of a hurricane, aging and the aftermath of breast cancer, immigrants fleeing famine, a mother’s worst fear, and the mystifications of love versus simple desire. As a tone painting, as well as an artwork painted with words, the final story “Galatea” offers a mind-bending, multimedia experience of the complex relationship between two artists and the workings of their minds. The book is not a linked story collection, yet some settings, subjects, phrases, styles, and themes weave throughout the collection, bringing to each stand-alone story a broad resonance and perspective. About the Author Roisin McLean writes fiction and creative nonfiction. She received her B.A. in English (both Writing & Editing, and Language & Literature) from The Pennsylvania State University, and received her MFA in Creative Writing, Fiction, from Fairleigh Dickinson University. She has been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize and was a semifinalist for The Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction (Nimrod/Hardman). McLean’s fiction (under various pen names) appears in or has been accepted for publication by Perigee: Publication for the Arts, Fiction Week Literary Review, Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts, Pithead Chapel, and the FDU MFA Alumni Anthology, Inaugural Issue (forthcoming). Her creative nonfiction appears in Winter Tales II: Women on the Art of Aging, in OH SANDY! A Humorous Anthology with a Serious Purpose (all profits of which benefit survivors of Hurricane Sandy), and in Runnin’ Around: The Serving House Book of Infidelity.  Her interviews with ex-pat author Thomas E. Kennedy appear in The McNeese Review and Ecotone. McLean worked as Managing Editor for Macmillan Publishing Company and in hands-on book production for other publishing houses, both on staff and freelance, for over thirty years. She currently writes, revises, updates homes, and serves as Associate Editor for Serving House Books. Praise “Roisin McLean’s The Fifth Eye [is] an illuminating story collection displaying a dazzling, virtuoso style of writing full of unique images and observations that are at times not only gorgeously humorous but also ironically crushing.” —Duff Brenna, author of Too Cool and  The Holy Book of the Beard “Compassionate portrayals of a wide range of characters … All are frail. Read more…