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Fowler's new collection, This Time, While We're Awake, welcomes you to the worlds of egregious dystopias—environments where tornadoes come one after another as neighbors spar, drugged breeders make babies in the near-future for the sterile rich, humans are sacrificed by contract to aliens who protect them, and the government provides zombie murder buses for insurgents while testing middle-class children, in advance, to fill the needs of militants and industry. In this collection, Fowler examines what it means to be fair and humane in the surreal landscapes where the ruling factions are neither of these things. Come and get your Practice Baby, if you'd like to try parenting. Take an injection to experience love without a partner. This collection showcases not only Fowler's trademark heart and humor, but also a darker dimension of commentary similar to Bradbury or The Twilight Zone. Selected stories in this volume have been published internationally and online.
Sprung from the variously lush, rugged, and frozen emotional landscapes of the north country, this luminous collection of stories captures the progress of a diverse ensemble of souls as they struggle to uncover themselves and negotiate a meaningful communion, of any kind, with the world around them. A brilliant but troubled Bangladeshi physics student searches for balance, acceptance, and his own extraordinary destiny after his father disappears. When a Halloween blizzard immobilizes Minneapolis, a young woman is forced to confront the snow-bound nature of her own relationships and emotions. During an excursion to an idyllic swimming hole hidden in the Black Hills, two old friends unexpectedly compete for the affections of an irresistible, though married, Lakota woman. Like a mythical expedition to reach the horizon or the quest to distill truth from the beauty around us, the revelation confirmed by these imaginative stories – elegant, sometimes jarring, always wonderfully absurd – is that the very act of reaching is itself a form of touch.
Perle Besserman’s Kabuki Boy is a novel of Japan set in and around the capital city of Edo (modern-day Tokyo) during the waning decades of the Tokugawa Era (1600-1868). Broadening the often narrowly focused literary and cinematic portrayals of samurai resistance to their declining social status, Besserman’s vivid narrative conveys that tumultuous period through the eyes of its peasants, priests, politicians, revolutionaries, mountebanks, geisha, and actors using the Kabuki theatre as a backdrop. Its nineteenth-century framework nested in a post-modern narrative by its fictional twentieth-century “editor,” a cultural historian and abbot of a Zen monastery one hundred miles from Tokyo, the book is comprised of memoirs, theatrical and monastery records, personal letters and journals, all centering on the life of a Kabuki boy actor whose brief but illustrious career reflects not only the “golden age of Kabuki Theatre,” but the most dramatic spiritual, political, and artistic events characterizing Japan’s violent emergence into the modern world.
The universe is expanding. Tragedy strikes and Tara sets out on her own. She hitches rides. She explores far off cities. She finds the expanding universe cold and hulking and lawless. But she discovers that instead of moving out always away from her, it is moving in, contracting, reducing itself to one infinitely compact singularity. The Quantum Manual of Style lays out a different kind of rules, a set science normally plays by in the empirical universe, the universe of observation and experiment. But Tara's is the universe we cannot see. One of future, of choice. Quantum Style gives us the rules and the examples by which we can reason the unreasonable.
To what length will we go to avoid loneliness? Facebook may once have been the one-word answer to that question, but for the hundreds of millions flocking to engage in ebocloud.com, "friending" seems frivolous by comparison. In the "great belonging" of the cloud, few stop to consider what sacrifices are being made as they work together with their "ebo cousins" to build a more loving society, under the leadership of ebocloud's idealistic architect, Radu Cajal. For New York artist Ellison Luber, however, the losses are not abstract―they are immediate and personal. While nearly oblivious to the ebocloud humanitarian movement, Ellie's insular life in Chelsea is violently upended by an attack that takes the life of his neighbor and sends his girlfriend in flight from the police. And most astoundingly, this and other crimes he experiences are traceable to ebocloud, the same organization dedicated to the new humanitarian enlightenment of the world.
Dramatically different in style and form, these tales range from the wicked (a divorcée recounts her failed marriages sardonically from A to Z), to heart-wrenchingly commonplace (an older Indian woman struggles to find a husband during humiliating bride-viewings), and emotionally barren (a mother cannot understand why her family doesn’t love her enough to remember her son’s first birthday). At times funny, but always incisive, this collection of stories examines the survival of those whose only certainty is dysfunction.
In the distance, a darkness, and within, a glowing―just out of reach. A pulsing mass of bone and tissue is discovered beneath a sofa; gigantic mosquitoes haunt feverish dreamscapes; a man lives inside the body of a giant, buried in the blood-soaked ground. In these worlds atoms are unstable, new dimensions uncurl beneath teeth, and violence is a brother. Comprised of stories ranging a wide variety of styles and influences, Glowing in the Dark is a hallway leading nowhere. It is gangrene.
These quirky, exuberant stories range from the Caribbean to small-town Pennsylvania to a post-apocalyptic state forest. A noted psychologist and lifelong religious skeptic is scolded by tiny statues of the Virgin Mary. Remedios, a recent college graduate, explores the Afro-Puerto Rican spirituality of her grandparents and discovers a history book that is writing itself. Dissident geologist Pilar Quińones is shut out of a shelter during a bio-chemical attack and winds up in a forest presided over by a joyful Devil. In the story cycle “The Wives,” we hear from the exiled ex-wife of a 20th-Century revolutionary-turned-dictator, the abandoned wife of an 18th-Century pirate, the restless wife of a 10th-Century priest, and the deposed, indignant wife of God himself. Veering between the realistic and the fabulist, these tales might best be described as whimsical-realist or magic-absurdist. A number of them have been published in literary journals such as Painted Bride Quarterly, Natural Bridge, Terrain, Specs, Segue, and Fringe.
Consonant Sounds for Fish Songs is a collection of seventeen short stories that explore the border between what you know and what you can’t explain. These characters inhabit a world where turning into a fish is the only sensible solution to loneliness and the search for God is conducted through amplifiers and tape decks. Drawing on the traditions of Borges and Calvino, this collection portrays real-world problems that manifest in bizarre ways. When a boy’s father dies, his heart turns into a hollow stone with a singing crab inside it. A madwoman gives birth to a bastard son who walks on water. A man lost at sea recites poetry and song lyrics, hoping his wife will hear and come rescue him. These stories are about death, God, and love, and they are connected by motifs of fish and music that resonate throughout the collection, transforming what you read as you read it. Because fish are signs of both life and death, and music is for joy and mourning and monsters alike.
When Meredith initially hears that her estranged father has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she says nothing. When Eliot, a long-time friend of her father’s, calls and asks her to see him, she hangs up. But once she runs out of ways to say no, Mere agrees to visit, reasoning that he’ll soon lose all memory of their estrangement. He’ll forget about her paralysis. He’ll forget about their fights. He’ll forget that he ever stopped loving her mother and be the person Mere adored. She leaves her house certain she’ll say something she can’t take back and arrives at his knowing he’ll someday forget she visited at all. In language honest and heartfelt, Carissa Halston presents Mere’s life with and without her father, and how Mere fills his absence with worry, wit, and words.
About the Novel:
A linguist grapples with the reinvention of her career after suffering from facial palsy, then the reinvention of herself when faced with the potential loss of her father, from whom she's been estranged for nearly twenty years. The Mere Weight of Words is full of pleasant surprises and packs a punch, with language that catches the reader unaware.
Known as one of the "top 10" fictional running books, including The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The Olympian, and Once a Runner, The Purple Runner now appears in its second edition printing. Originally published in 1983, The Purple Runner concentrates upon two stories evolving in London, one about a New Zealand marathoner looking to break her cycle of mediocre clockings in marathon running, and the other surrounding a mysterious world-class runner with a disfigured face. His return to competition finally occurs in spectacular fashion when both runners compete in the London Marathon. The Purple Runner is a must-read for any runner, veteran or novice.
The Hound of Westover County takes place in the rural Midwest. Stanley and Katie are two ordinary people: he is a young man with a close, almost mystical relationship with nature, and she is a practical, young Amish woman in a tense relationship with an overbearing father. The two draw closer together, finally moving to a remote place on the river to live in a house that he has built, and that she makes into a home. What they encounter there, neither of them expected could ever happen to anyone. In the end, the couple is faced with a choice―to leave behind the comforts of home or move to the city to make a new life. Regardless of the choice, their unsettling experience touches their lives forever, leaving its mark of tragedy.
The Flamer is a novel that chronicles the boyhood of a closet pyromaniac. While all boys tinker with fire, Oby Brooks holes up in the backyard shed to experiment with napalm recipes. He has a hand in burning down his own house—twice. And he can’t help it: his very DNA seems made of TNT. Meanwhile, between detonations, Oby’s sexuality is being tested and defined. Parents, mountain men, chemistry teachers, neighbors, and arson inspectors all try in their own quirky ways to usher Oby into adulthood with his fingers and eyelashes intact. In the end, the question is whether Oby’s nature will be nurtured, or neutered. Oh, and, will he land a Nobel Prize?
A triptych of nine darkly comic stories, Omicron Ceti III opens a window onto the margins of American middle class intelligentsia. A high school English teacher rumored to be an undercover agent for the FBI, an international investment banker driven to extremes in his quest for a culinary soul mate, and an orthodontist’s son obsessed by the number three are a few typical characters in this innovative, literate, and sometimes disturbing collection. Balázs—a writer once described as "the unlikely lovechild of Vonnegut, Nabokov, and Telly Savalas"—incorporates drawings, lists, and allusions ranging from Star Trek to Middlemarch, testing the boundaries between high and low, comedy and pathos, light and dark.
Mitchell, a twenty-something Cougar Cub with a midlife girlfriend named Marsha, wakes each morning, living an ever-broadening line between human and machine. As his literal condition progresses, he loses his capacity for human emotion, and potentially Marsha. AS A MACHINE AND PARTS is the story of Mitchell’s struggle to discover which assembly line he belongs to. What makes AS A MACHINE AND PARTS especially unique is the way it integrates illustrative elements to render the story beyond the conventional textual style. As Mitchell morphs from human to machine, the text changes with him, evolving (devolving?) from a handwritten style to a typed style, and ultimately to a schematic diagram. Throughout, the page reflects Mitchell’s change, immersing the reader into the text in ways that traditional storytelling cannot.
Something is off within Peter Traxler. Born and raised in Mississippi in the last quarter of the 20th century, he is sick with nostalgia at 30 for his upper-middle class upbringing. The stories begin with his sexual initiation in a cotton field and follow him and three close friends as they make their blind way through their 20s, as Peter’s father dies, his friends establish stable adult versions of themselves, and Peter carries himself from one location to another, trying to locate life as a man.
The Portable Son is a collection of linked short stories in the tradition of early Updike, the Michigan-era Hemingway, and Stuart Dybek—stories of sensitive boys bumbling between friends and women. Here the milieu is the contemporary South—but not the South of degenerate freaks and cartoonish rednecks, but rather the polite, well-behaved South, the South of relentless good manners, the South of Polo shirts and thank you notes, the South that no one else writes about.
Float details the horrific adventures of a man and woman who leave the coast on a thirty-five foot sailboat in order to save their decaying marriage. The man arrives one month later, alone, on the shore of an equatorial country in a life raft. Island officials and an incompetent American Consulate question the man as to what happened to his wife at sea. The man attempts to convince them, and himself, that what happened in the very heart of the doldrums was an accident. In the process he explores the torment of stillness, both at sea and on land. Later, even in a desolate setting, he cannot escape the ghost of his wife, who continues to haunt him.
The Other Shore is set in Israel in the 1980s, between the Lebanese War and the outbreak of the first Intifada (1984-1989), a pivotal time which saw the final transition of Israel from a Zionist-socialist society to a Western-style consumer society. The novel follows the lives of representative characters across the entire breadth of Israeli society but focuses on two families – the Shachars, a kibbutz family, and the Goldsteins, representing the emerging Israeli middle class. The protagonists in effect vie to win the heart and soul of Israel itself, personified by the beautiful Ariela.
In an explosion of love's metaphors, Fowler's debut collection of stories, SUSPENDED HEART, takes on American fabulism with a cast of unexpected heroines in the narratives of life and loss: women whose hearts fall out at public malls, women whose bodies bloom with changing seasons, women who sprout blades or have multiple eyes, sleep as snakes, or birth saints like lapis lazuli babies. Where there is struggle and sadness, there is also humor: Fowler's fictive voice has been compared to both Franz Kafka and Donald Barthelme. There's a fearlessness to this prose, a melody of life and magic and loss. Selected stories in this volume have been published online and in Australia. Partial author's proceeds to be donated to a battered women and children's charity.
HiStory of Santa Monica is a thematically linked collection connected by both the characters, who are struggling to realize their Hollywood dreams, and the setting—Santa Monica, California. A seemingly peaceful seaside city, Santa Monica is also a purgatory where the characters must face failure and loss, as well as their demons and ghosts. Family and ritual are consistent motifs throughout the collection, as are the themes of escape, addiction, redemption, reparation, religion, and death. Whether it is a young couple looking to buy their first home or a man returning to his hometown for a funeral or a baptism, readers will find the everyday rituals in these stories identifiable in many ways.