The Moon Behind the 8-Ball and Other Stories

 
9788190481816: The Moon Behind the 8-Ball and Other Stories
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From the Preface: Here's an assignment for you. Write about a specific place you once lived. Do not describe your state of mind when you lived there, but, rather, show us by the descriptive details what life was like for you then. Show us how you learned of your wife's affair with a trucker. Let us feel how you felt when you watched your neighbor burn herself to death in her car. Don't explain to us how you are a little girls with a heart condition, but show us how you lean against your grandpa sometimes, because he knows my heart needs more rest than other people's. Put us down in the middle of East St. Paul in the 1970's and let us live that hardscrabble urban life. You'd rather not do this assignment? You're in luck then, because Suzanne Nielsen has already done it for you. I came up for air out of Nielsen's fictional world and looked around me with wicked eyes. All of Nielsen's characters live and breathe here, Behind the 8-Ball. Suzanne Nielsen's stories, for the most part, are tiny--most are no longer than 500 words. Nor are her characters always large, but they are always startling in the best of ways; they open our hearts and minds, they shift the world just a little bit on its axis. From Full Bloom: The cactus does not bloom. It wants forgiveness and calls to me. It has a message to deliver, and I am its teetering receptor. I trust the needles won't harm me...so I walk ever so slowly into its arms and stand ready for its embrace. Suzanne Nielsen knows that none of us are ever free from a broken heart. She also knows that none of us is ever prevented from trying to heal one. ---Alison McGhee

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About the Author:

Suzanne Nielsen, a native of St. Paul, Minnesota, teaches writing at Metropolitan State University. Her poetry, fiction and essays appear in literary journals nationally and internationally; some of these include The Comstock Review, The Copperfield Review, Mid-America Poetry Review, Foliate Oak, Identity Theory, The Pedestal, Word Riot and 580 Split. So'ham Books released her first collection of poetry titled East of the River in December 2005. She often has the Boy Scout motto on the tip of her tongue: Be prepared.

Review:

As the autor of the Cool Dead People column Suzanne Nielsen has brought us into the worlds of other writers, and we feel lucky to have her as our tour guide. In her first collection of short fiction, Nielsen invites us into her own world, and we feel luckier still. Hers is a working-class American landscape but one filled with freaks and oddities--circus sideshows, garage break-ins, hospital bed visions, asylum escapes. The stories are in the first person and the narrators are quite often children, with a child's eye for freakishness. A girl keeps playground bullies from her friend by bribing them with stolen cigarettes; a man leaving his wife begins making decisions based on a magic 8-Ball; a dog narrates a tale of a family-wrecking pet cockatiel. Reading these stories is like watching a trapeze performer--they're filled with strange trajectories, stunts, daring, occasional free-fall. This is flash fiction at its breathless best--dark espresso shots of character, action, life. ----Joel Van Valen, editor of Whistling Shade Literary Journal

Suzanne Nielsen's The Moon Behind the 8-Ball and Other Stories offers up entree upon entree of what we need most: the scarred, both spiritually and physically; the arsonist, real and should-be; sane human beings puzzled by the irrational actions and inactions of misguided Republican-voting robots; state fair barkers; mothers of filthy children; the psychic believer and the psychically-challenged. Her short-short stories plunk characters down in the very middle of in medias res. They land on their feet, look both ways, and decide quickly which direction to trudge onward. In short, these stories are an existentialist's delight. ---George Singleton, author of These People Are Us and Half-Mammals of Dixie.

Suzanne Nielsen's collection, The Moon Behind the 8-Ball and Other Stories, clearly exhibits the author's mastery of the first person narrator. In these memorable works of flash/short fiction, voices reverberate, enter the dream world, bury under the skin. Nielsen lends a poetic eye to the form of fiction: This is a collection that offers the reader both unsettling and lyrical glimpses of anxiety, love, and innocence. Like Muhammad Ali, Nielsen's fiction floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee. -- --Nathan Leslie

Suzanne Nielsen's The Moon Behind the 8-Ball and Other Stories offers up entree upon entree of what we need most: the scarred, both spiritually and physically; the arsonist, real and should-be; sane human beings puzzled by the irrational actions and inactions of misguided Republican-voting robots; state fair barkers; mothers of filthy children; the psychic believer and the psychically-challenged. Her short-short stories plunk characters down in the very middle of in medias res. They land on their feet, look both ways, and decide quickly which direction to trudge onward. In short, these stories are an existentialist's delight. ---George Singleton, author of These People Are Us and Half-Mammals of Dixie.

Suzanne Nielsen's collection, The Moon Behind the 8-Ball and Other Stories, clearly exhibits the author's mastery of the first person narrator. In these memorable works of flash/short fiction, voices reverberate, enter the dream world, bury under the skin. Nielsen lends a poetic eye to the form of fiction: This is a collection that offers the reader both unsettling and lyrical glimpses of anxiety, love, and innocence. Like Muhammafloats like a butterfly, stings like a bee. -- --Nathan Leslie

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