In honor of the general release of Tyrone Jaeger’s So Many True Believers, a story collection National Book Award-finalist Lauren Groff (Fates and Furies) says is “linked like a set of Christmas lights, a series of bright bulbs glowing against the cold and dark night,” we give you the official book trailer. Many thanks to filmmakers Ali Bair and Kate Engler–and to the author himself, of course.
Queen’s Ferry Press is pleased to announce its newest author, Matthew Pitt. These Are Our Demands, Matthew’s second collection, will be published in 2017. The twelve stories (and one artist’s sketch) revolve around characters laying claim to opportunities they wield little to no leverage to enforce. Their lack of power could be due to age; or because they hail from parts of the nation—such as a triptych of stories set in the Mississippi Delta—where merely getting by passes for rousing success; or due to language and cultural barriers; or shifting family dynamics that leave them lacking security. But being consigned to the margins opens up, for these characters, a different kind of wilderness, just across the border from polite society.
Stories from the collection have appeared in Conjunctions, Michigan Quarterly Review, Cimarron Review, Southern Humanities Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Epoch, Cincinnati Review, New South, New Letters, and Good Men Project, and have been honored and recognized by Best American Short Stories 2012, Glimmer Train and The Texas Observer.
Matthew’s first book of stories, Attention Please Now, won the Autumn House Press Fiction Prize. The collection was later a winner of Late Night Library’s Debutlitzer Prize and a Writers’ League of Texas Book Award finalist. Matthew’s fiction has appeared in dozens of magazines, anthologies, and print and online journals and several individual stories have been cited in “Best Of” anthologies; his fiction has also received honors and awards from The New York Times, Mississippi Arts Commission, Bronx Council on the Arts, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Salem College Center for Women Writers, and fellowships from the Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Taos Writers’ Conferences. He has taught creative writing at NYU, Penn State-Altoona, Illinois College, and Hendrix College, and is Associate Editor of Bucknell University’s literary journal, West Branch. Matthew is currently an Assistant Professor of English at TCU in Fort Worth, where he serves as Editor of descant, and was recently recognized as the department’s Teacher of the Year.
About publishing with Queen’s Ferry, Matthew says: “It’s human nature to take notice of, and interest in, your neighbors, and since Queen’s Ferry Press is more-or-less based out of my backyard, I’ve been a witness to the impressive momentum they’ve built, and their clear commitment to literary work—and short stories, in particular. They publish beautiful books, driven by language and character, books eager to push form and approach in electric ways, and I kept noticing their books were penned by writers I admire, whose work spikes my heartbeat and inspires me. I am delighted and proud to be part of that roster.”
Thanks for the kind words, Matthew–we’re thrilled to have you!
Pamela Painter (Wouldn’t You Like to Know) says of Adulterous Generation‘s characters: “[They] never shy away from ‘doing.’ They consign dishes and wineglasses to the trash, flood houses, break taboos, plunder lives for a comic strip, steal money with mace as a weapon, and navigate the mayhem of their own lives with humor, wisdom, and hope in their quirky and profoundly generous hearts.”
Today marks the release of Amy L. Clark’s collection of short stories, twenty in all; the book can be ordered directly through QFP and is also available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Ebook formats are also downloadable, though we feel the cover image especially sings on the paperback–something Amy is kind enough to talk about:
It is not an accident that the photograph featured on the cover of Adulterous Generation was taken in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven. And not just any 7-Eleven. The 7-Eleven. The 7-Eleven because it was the only 7-Eleven I knew of growing up. I grew up in a series of very small towns. By the time I was in high school, I spent a great deal of time in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven. I was there uncounted afternoons eating twenty-five cent Zebra Cakes and leaning against crappy cars. I was there on the way to the prom with my hair in ringlets done up by my best friend’s mom. I was there the night a giant luna moth flew in through the open door and so terrified the cashier that he hid in the back while a few of my more adventurous friends, those who were less cowed by the law or moral ambiguity, loaded candy bars and packs of Marlboro reds into their pockets and fled. I was at work in the Dunkin Donuts next door when I called the cops to report that an old dude dressed in a Civil War uniform (Union) was parading around the 7-Eleven parking lot with a real rifle over his shoulder. I was there the day this photograph was taken. I took it with my stepfather’s old Nikkormat 35 millimeter. Later, at the local art college where I was a student in the Saturday program for misfit high school students, I developed the film and printed the photograph on 8 x 10 matte paper.
The picture is of my best friend and her then-boyfriend. It was the summer of 1996, and we were sixteen, and he was probably eighteen. Somewhere just out of frame there would have been the car we were riding around in that day–his Duster or her father’s one-ton flatbed. Somewhere just out of frame would have been a bottle of Mountain Dew and a couple packs of Camel Lights.
My best friend then is still one of my best friends now. We’ve known each other for twenty-three years and have helped each other grow up. Her then-boyfriend, on the other hand, has disappeared from the picture for me, and for her. No idea what happened to him. That 7-Eleven is no longer a 7-Eleven either. That’s a bit like how I think of these stories–full of things many of us have experienced and some of us, and some of the characters, will grow out of. Others will simply lose the plot, or the plot will lose them. The bulk of these stories take place in locations similar to this parking lot, in or around that time period, which from here seems like a very long time ago. And thank god.
I’ll Give You Something to Cry About – 5
The Life Story of a Chilean Sea Blob – 3
We Bury the Landscape – 1
Lesser Apocalypses – 17
Completeness of the Soul – 4
Strategies Against Extinction – 18 (1 signed)
Shadows of Men – 8
Is That You, John Wayne? – SOLD OUT
The Sin Eater and Other Stories – 12
Danceland – 19 (hardcover 17; paperback 2)
Where the Body Ends – 3
Goodnight Nobody – 39
The Decline of Pigeons – 19 (2 signed)
Pages from the Textbook of Alternate History – 18
Elegantly Naked In My Sexy Mental Illness – 2
Backswing – SOLD OUT
Torture Tree – 15
Ahead of its pre-release next Tuesday, November 24th, we thought we’d stay true to the freewheelin’ spirit of Camouflage Country and have a little fun–and also give you the chance to win signed copies!
Here’s how it works:
Below you will find four groups of sentences drawn directly from the book. Because the collection was a true collaboration between Ryan Ridge & Mel Bosworth, it’s tricky to determine where one author ends and the other begins. Which is exactly what Queen’s Ferry is asking you to do: tell us who wrote the sentences that follow–two groups belong to Ryan, two to Mel–by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org; the first 4 correct responders (1 per group) will each receive a signed copy.
1) At the time I believed in love and I reckon I still do.
2) And farther off still, I can nearly hear the low rumble of something bigger than you on your loudest day.
3) We had fantastic mohawks and the world by the balls.
4) Through the dust that kicked up all around, my eyes kept returning to the horses tethered nearby, their long faces blank and beautiful as catwalk amnesiacs.
5) There we were in our minds, skin naked and pink, teeth-tearing our favorite concert tees and slam-dancing with mechanics, each of us happier and each of us the wiser for it.
6) And when the day finally comes, the reunion signal will be easy because I practice it all the time inside the saddest boxcar: knees to chest, hug forever.
7) The groove wrapped the room like a second skin and my Memphis blood took us all home.
8) Later, pensive and buzzed beside the crackle of our campfire, I took a cool swallow of Michelob Ultra, fired a snot rocket into the darkness, and told my father he’d make a damn fine mother.
9) We rolled up our lives like sleeping bags and headed toward brighter colors and louder music.
10) Outside, the world was thick with a fog that took me in like a birthday party, all cheers and backslaps and frosting stabbed with fire.
1) Everyone was a star and nothing is real.
2) I went to bed early because it was never too late.
3) Outside the rain fell like empires.
4) We are actors, dammit, children who never ceased believing.
5) Through the giant bagel marquee I watched the sunset burst from the center and thought how everything good comes from the center.
6) The cork played the room like a pinball machine.
7) Another man dousing himself in kerosene as his wife bursts into laughter from the flames.
8) My manifesto was getting lots of likes on Facebook and my Twitter followers had shot to triple digits in the few hours since I’d issued my ultimate ultimatum.
9) Martyrs happen all the time, but a modern saint is about as rare as a one-armed gymnast.
10) I didn’t believe in monsters until my sister brought one home.
1) Now the blue moon lit our skin like butane.
2) With the exception of stating that there was no digital Satan, the producers were super tightlipped about how the Virgin birth scene was accomplished.
3) Such was my beginning, long before my funding for Antarctica, long before those strippers grazed my sagging skin with their chests, breasts, and hearts.
4) We were high as Balsa-wood flyers.
5) What I got instead was a spectacular view of galaxies’ slow-motion salsa dancing and I guess I can think of worse ways to spend a few lifetimes.
6) I hoped you’d answer but all I got was the pounding sound of everything that was ever wrong.
7) The way I saw it we were like our American Adventure cabin coupon: innocent until proven unredeemable and I’d never felt more born.
8) The moon pushed beneath the horizon and rang like the close of the second round of a fight scheduled for fifteen.
9) The answer was obvious but no one would admit it: it was time to put our guns down and go home, collect our sashes from pot-bellied oaks, and press our own pot bellies into American dinner tables.
10) I turned my attention back to the darkening field, to the uninspired music, and to whatever patriotic dishonesty came next.
1) And I jumped out the window as the room became flames.
2) He’d constructed a sensory deprivation tank out of old washing machine parts and a children’s pool.
3) We married beneath a waterfall, honeymooned at the end of a rainbow.
4) I went to the store and picked up a forty of Olde English, a box of menthols, and a Shake Weight.
5) It was raining animals and we sweated nude in the glass-walled parlor of my attorney’s home in the hills.
6) Whoa, whoa, whoa.
7) The moon looked like a dark disc with light leaking from it.
8) We wanted to sleep in our own beds, and for once, we wanted to wake up in a world that didn’t seem shot.
9) He had eyes like shiny new shovels and when no one was looking I suspected he dug deep into the pharmacy stash.
10) I was a man without a plan––hungover and already half-drunk––and just stupid enough to think everything was going to be all right.
Come one, come all!
When I teach writing workshops, I always emphasize that the first sentence is the most important part of one’s story. It’s a first impression, the man or woman who steps up to your restaurant table during a blind date. Say the wrong thing, or don’t dress the part, and you lose a lot of points right from the get-go. Sure, some may give you the benefit of the doubt, but many will have made up their minds about the second date (nada) before you’ve even placed your napkin on your lap. When you do have a captivating first line, and your novel is published, however, suddenly the cover becomes the most important part. It’s the first thing potential readers see in the bookstore or library; it should be able to sum up, along with your title, the mood and type of story. Easier with romance novels, or even science fiction, where scantily clad lovers on the beach or a rocket firing through the cosmos get the message across pretty quickly. But what about literary fiction?
I knew, as soon as Queens Ferry Press acquired my second novel, The Summer She Was Under Water, that I wanted a say in the cover art. I know to what kinds of covers I am drawn and (I hoped) my potential readers. There are covers that blew me away when I first saw them, like Laura van den Berg’s debut collection of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, from Dzanc, where a wooden footpath leads into a washed-out landscape of mist, or Julia Orringer’s How to Breathe Underwater (Vintage), wherein a trio of teenage girls swim in a lush but murky lake of water, completely hemmed in by a tree canopy. It helps, of course, that both books had “water” in the title, like mine, and they both perfectly portrayed the mood of the collections in them. What the World Will Look Like’s hazy, dreamy fog and disappearing footpath invite the reader into a world of grayscale, where dichotomy is muddled and what seems up is down and down is up. How to Breathe Underwater’s deep waters (the waterline is high, halving the cover into top and bottom) plays on similar themes on what is seen, or what appears to be, and what isn’t. Orringer’s cover even more so hints of the foreboding that clings to the three teenaged girls on what appears to be any other day, except this is the day that’s different.
The Summer She Was Under Water takes place during a fourth of July weekend at a cabin on the Conowingo River in Northern Maryland where things also aren’t as they seem. I studied many images of swimmers in bodies of water, being careful not to replicate Orringer’s perfect cover. Because I employ some magical realism in the book, I considered that my lake or river scene should hint at dreaminess, but also depth. I also wanted colors that would draw viewers from across a crowded store.
I was on Etsy one day (my guilty pleasure) when I decided to look for swimming-related paintings and artwork when I came upon the work of Scout Cuomo. Her work concentrates very heavily on the refracted qualities of light on water mixing realism and surrealism. I was enchanted. And then I happened on, “Going Swimming,” the image that would become the cover for The Summer She Was Under Water. In it, we, the viewers, look up from the bottom of the pool (or are we even in a pool? Cuomo doesn’t exactly ground us with any reference points) as a woman in an orange bikini swims by us at the top. The dizzying blue water is lit from the surface and shows its depth. At first glance, the image is unthreatening, and yet, with our deep submersion and unclear point of reference, we cannot really position the woman; what is she swimming to, or away from? Is she merely keeping afloat? Will she eventually join us below, at the bottom, out of exhaustion, or desire? And what are we doing here?
“Going Swimming” perfectly sums up the protagonist, Samantha Pinski, in The Summer She Was Under Water: on a trajectory to success (she has just published her first novel), in motion towards a goal (getting through a holiday weekend with her estranged parents and brother), but in danger of being pulled down by something (or someone) any minute. And even if a potential reader doesn’t draw the same psychological cues from Cuomo’s work as I have, the piece itself is just visually stunning. (I can vouch for Queens Ferry Press, at least, who thought it “gorgeous” when I “floated” the idea to them.) The cool aqua, prism-like water and the warm bright orange bathing suit combine to produce a visual pop and easily stand out in a row of other books or on a table. “Going Swimming” is really the best of two worlds in one. It’s like a gorgeous dinner companion who had you at hello but then, when you get to know them, really bares his or her soul.
We are thrilled to announce that Scotland’s Saltire Society, at simultaneous announcement ceremonies held in Edinburgh and London, has shortlisted Helen McClory’s On the Edges of Vision for the Saltire Scottish First Book of the Year Award. As these prizes are widely regarded as the country’s most prestigious literary awards, Queen’s Ferry couldn’t be more proud of Helen—regardless of the winners’ announcement in Edinburgh on November 26th.
On the Edges of Vision is described in the announcement as “a collection of dark short stories and prose poetry about the limits of the conscious and the darkness within from Edinburgh-based writer Helen McClory.”
Reviewing the title for Monkeybicycle, Ariell Cacciola calls the book: “A debut collection that lingers in the curves of your eyes and during the double-blink gazes of late night shadows, Helen McClory has wound tight, unexpected stories… On the Edges of Vision is simmering…. If anything, McClory’s monsters are both homely and unfamiliar, and the tangle is what makes this collection ever so enjoyable.”
I first encountered Amy L. Clark’s writing in A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness (Rose Metal Press); I’m now thrilled to publish her Adulterous Generation, a collection that “follows young people using what they have to try to create lives for themselves in our still-new century.”
About the book, Christopher Boucher (How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive), says: “Amy Clark’s stories are flash floods, full of moments both poignant and devastating. Step into Adulterous Generation and let the waters rise around you.”
The book page is now now live on the Queen’s Ferry site–why not stop by and learn more about this January 2016 title?
Here it is: the final book of 2015 (Dec. 22), ready for its close-up. A truly collaborative compilation, Camouflage Country brings together authors Ryan Ridge & Mel Bosworth and the illustrations of Jacob Heustis in a collection of microfictions/prose poems described by Kathleen Rooney (O, Democracy!) as “a pinball machine of a book, full of bounce and light and crazy ricochets: sentences start, you don’t know where they’ll end up, and this dynamic unpredictability is what gives this collection its life and its victory.”