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Other titles in the Iowa Short Fiction Award series:
Lungs Full of Noise (Iowa Short Fiction Award)by Tessa Mellas
Synopses & Reviews
"The 12 stories in Mellas's debut collection, which won the 2013 Iowa Short Fiction Award, employ fantasy to magnifying effect as she explores the ways women and girls view themselves and their shortcomings. Much like Karen Russell or Aimee Bender, Mellas uses bizarre and even grotesque elements to test the mettle of her characters — or to indicate their skewed worldviews. Many resort to extreme tactics to get what they want: figure skaters screw blades directly into their feet and shave their bodies to give themselves an added edge in 'Mariposa Girls'; a woman alleviates empty-nest syndrome by raising caterpillars in 'The White Wings of Moths'; and a menopausal caregiver has 'an evergreen baby' in 'Beanstalk.' In 'Dye Job,' a gaggle of high school girls gorge on fruit to lure prom dates. 'So Many Wings' depicts a divorcÃ©e making off with her ex-husband's severed arm from a morgue. 'Bibi From Jupiter,' which centers on a college student who, over the course of two semesters, has more-unusual-than-average roommate issues, is a departure. The other six stories have an impressionistic, abstract bent, lacking coherent narrative backbones; the best of these, 'Quiet Camp,' hyperbolizes the punishments that girls endure for being loquacious. This collection establishes Mellas as a writer of strong, strange, and questioning stories." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
This prize-winning debut of twelve stories explores a femininity that is magical, raw, and grotesque. Aghast at the failings of their bodies, this cast of misfit women and girls sets out to remedy the misdirection of their lives in bold and reckless ways.
Figure skaters screw skate blades into the bones of their feet to master elusive jumps. A divorcee steals the severed arm of her ex to reclaim the fragments of a dissolved marriage. Following the advice of a fashion magazine, teenaged girls binge on grapes to dye their skin purple and attract prom dates. And a college freshman wages war on her roommate from Jupiter, who has inadvertently seduced all the boys in their dorm with her exotic hermaphroditic anatomy.
But it isn’t just the characters who are in crisis. In Lungs Full of Noise, personal disasters mirror the dissolution of the natural world. Written in lyrical prose with imagination and humor, Tessa Mellas’s collection is an aviary of feathered stories that are rich, emotive, and imbued with the strength to suspend strange new worlds on delicate wings.
About the Author
Tessa Mellas’s stories have appeared in Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Prism International, and StoryQuarterly and have been anthologized in 40 Stories: New Writing from Harper Perennial and Apocalypse Now: Prose and Poetry from the End of Days. Born in northern New York, she has competed nationally in synchronized figure skating. She earned a BA from St. Lawrence University, an MFA from Bowling Green State University, and a PhD from the University of Cincinnati. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and two cats and teaches writing at the Ohio State University.
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