Friday, January 11, 2019

Friday Freebie: Wild Life by Kathy Fish

Congratulations to Jacqueline Isler, winner of last week’s Friday Freebie: Woman at 1,000 Degrees by Hallgrimur Helgason.

I’m thrilled to announce this week’s giveaway is for the new collection of short-short stories by Kathy Fish, Wild Life. This book, which shares the title of an earlier collection by Fish, adds several new stories and the result is one of the best short-fiction reading experiences I’ve had in years. Wild Life is, in a word, brilliant; in two words: brilliantly illuminating. Kathy Fish has a way of drilling down into the heart of her characters with a speed and economy that by the time you reach the end of the story—often less than two pages—you feel you’ve explored an entire universe in just three paragraphs. Yes, reader, I loved Wild Life, and I think you will, too.

Keep scrolling for more information on the novel and how to enter the contest...

Here’s author Sara Lippmann (Doll Palace) on why she loved Wild Life as much as I did:

For more than a decade, Kathy Fish has been skewering the American landscape to bring us startling, unforgettable stories of people trying to forge a path through this shattered world. Her characters—patchwork families, scrappy siblings, unraveling couples, strangers, neighbors, and women confronting the violent self-annihilation that attends motherhood—are wracked by their actions and inactions. Surreality may be the only way out. If she did not coin the term flash fiction, we have her to thank for singlehandedly growing and elevating the dynamic form, securing its indelible place in the literary canon. With Wild Life, Fish demonstrates time and again why she is one of the most exciting and influential writers we have. Her range is on full display in this brilliant, comprehensive collection, an absolute must for students and teachers, for writers and readers across the genres.

No two stories are alike; each one dazzles in its own surprising way, all of them remarkable gems. Some, like “At Ethel and Harry’s On the Last Night,” contain the astounding scope of a novel in a few compressed pages; others, like “Lioness” open up with a scream. Fish fearlessly explodes structure and upends form with a playfulness and permissiveness that transcends myopic conventions of storytelling.

Devour them, but don’t be deceived by their thumbnail size; her stories are expansive, rife with a complexity that demands a slow, dedicated, and repeated read. Even after a close study, you won’t begin to grasp how she devastates and delights on a single line. This is her inimitable magic. She will gut you with the sheer precision of her emotional restraint. Images don’t just pop but vibrate through the senses. The familiar becomes unfamiliar in exquisite juxtaposition. Through Fish’s deft pen, the wind is never the wind but “the hands of many children clapping.” Rooms smell like creamed corn. Parachutes bloom like jellyfish. A party hat becomes a narwhal’s tooth. The road and clouds press down upon a trapped narrator like two large hands. Every story shatters, unsettling the fractured ground on which we stand, and then somehow invites the reader to gather shards and hold them to the light. That is grace “This broken planet needs a hero,” one of her characters says. My hero, bar none, is Kathy Fish.”

If you’d like a chance at winning Wild Life, simply email your name and mailing address to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line. Please include your mailing address in the body of the e-mail. One entry per person, please. Despite its name, the Friday Freebie remains open to entries until midnight on Jan. 17, at which time I’ll draw the winning name. I’ll announce the lucky reader on Jan. 18. If you’d like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week newsletter, simply add the words “Sign me up for the newsletter” in the body of your email. Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

Want to double your odds of winning? Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter. Once you’ve done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying “I’ve shared” and I’ll put your name in the hat twice.

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