Favorite New Fiction
from Small and Micro Publishers

American 419 and Other Stories

American 419 and Other Stories

In American 419 and Other Stories, journalist and novelist Adetokunbo Abiola takes us on an honest, unsanitized tour of modern Nigeria, one that is by turns tragic and darkly comic and in every sense thought-provoking.

Several stories in the collection focus on deep-seated corruption in the country, manifesting in everything from financial scams to medical quackery. At the center of the title story, “American 419,” is advance fee fraud, commonly practiced through scam e-mails. (The 419 refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code that concerns this crime.) In this story, Boston businessman Fred Taylor has lost one hundred thousand dollars to such fraud, but Taylor thinks he might recoup his losses by helping a Nigerian politician transfer money to America in exchange for a cut of the funds.

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Inside Madeleine

Inside Madeleine

A patient in a ward of anorexics envies “the protruding bones of someone who is that much closer to not being here at all.”

A psychology major finds that her job at a halfway house is replacing her idealism with frustration and disgust.

A nineteen-year-old becomes sexually and emotionally addicted to a rock drummer who, in response, scorns her “sheer lack of pride.”

These are just a few of the situations explored in Paula Bomer’s new story collection, Inside Madeleine, which shines a light into the most uncomfortable corners of the young female characters’ lives, under circumstances when these women are most vulnerable, uncertain, and prone to making mistakes. The stories are raw and sometimes cringe-inducing. But it’s likely that for any woman who has reached the point of looking back on her teens and twenties, aspects of these tales will feel unsettlingly familiar, or spark the occasional “but for the grace of god” reaction.

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It’s a Tough Economy!

It’s a Tough Economy!

In the best of times, in the best of personal circumstances, looking for work is a pain in the ass. But in a sagging economy, and especially for job hunters who are running on financial and spiritual fumes, this task can bring on an existential crisis.

Jarrod Shanahan’s darkly hilarious illustrated novella, It’s a Tough Economy, portrays just such a crisis.

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Small-Press Spotlight: Red Paint Hill Publishing

Small-Press Spotlight: Red Paint Hill Publishing

With this post, Small Press Picks continues its series of interviews with editors and other key figures at small and micro presses throughout the country. Here, we speak with Stephanie Bryant Anderson, publisher and editor of Red Paint Hill Publishing, a new press that is looking to publish full-length poetry collections, novels, plays, short story collections, translations, and anthologies. How (and when) did Red Paint Hill Publishing get...

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The Forgotten Roses: A Novel

The Forgotten Roses: A Novel

In 1940s Boston, Rose Gabrielli, a tough girl who “ran around with men” is sent to a women’s prison by her shamed father. She dies there, reportedly by her own hand. But her family suspects that she was murdered, because “she knew something” about the goings-on at the prison—“something terrible.”

In later years, Serena Deitzhoff, another tough young woman—and daughter of the prison’s one-time psychologist—mysteriously disappears after her mother’s suicide, generating rumors in her hometown.

And in the present day, in the same town, teenager Dana Griffin is immersed in her own set of troubles and heading quickly down a path of self destruction.

Bringing together these three stories is Dana’s mother, Rebecca Griffin, the protagonist of Deborah Docette’s briskly paced and thought-provoking début novel, The Forgotten Roses. A real estate agent, Rebecca is in charge of selling the home of Harold Deitzhoff, Serena’s father and the former prison psychologist. As she visits Deitzhoff, whose failing physical and mental state echoes the deteriorating condition of his house, Rebecca finds herself haunted by her family’s stories of Rose, a distant relative. And she begins to be troubled by questions: Did these stories have any basis in fact? What about the “respite therapy” that Deitzhoff was said to offer prison inmates, like Rose, at his home? Was it the beneficial intervention it was claimed to be or something far more sinister? Finally, why did Serena Deitzhoff disappear? And what was behind her mother’s suicide?

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Small-Press Spotlight: Press 53

Small-Press Spotlight: Press 53

With this post, Small Press Picks is launching a new feature: regular interviews with editors and other key figures at small and micro presses throughout the country. Here, we speak with Kevin Morgan Watson, the founding editor of North Carolina-based Press 53, which is focusing on publishing short story and poetry collections.

How did Press 53 get started?

 I edited a short story anthology for a New York City arts foundation in 2001 and caught the publishing bug. I enjoyed finding stories I loved and then designing a book to share them. When I lost my day job in 2004, I decided to start Press 53. I initially planned to publish only local writers and sell the books locally, but very soon after I opened the press in October 2005, a few award-winning authors I had published in the anthology began sending me manuscripts. The press quickly took on a life of its own. All I could do was hang on.

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The Fiery Alphabet

The Fiery Alphabet

“When I think of all I tried to create in this world, your mind is the one unqualified success.”

 For Daniela Messo, math prodigy and heroine of The Fiery Alphabet, Diane Lefer’s sweeping and illuminating new historical novel, these words are a fond memory of a father’s admiration. But they are also a kind of warning, for Daniela and her father live in eighteenth-century Rome, where female intellectuals confront suspicion and far worse threats from religious authorities and society at large.

 The novel movingly describes Daniela’s efforts to persist and occasionally thrive in the face of such threats, and to shrewdly rebel against the limits they impose on her. It also allows readers to share Daniela’s journey, both intellectual and literal, toward a greater understanding of herself and of the larger world. Along the way she discovers that while her active mind puts her in danger, it can also be a saving grace.

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