Total Oblivion

"A fast-paced, suspenseful dystopian picaresque, part Huck Finn and part bizarro-world Swiss Family Robinson..."



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Skinny Dipping

Long-listed for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and finalist for the Crawford Award. Title short story listed for the 2000 O. Henry award.

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Barzak Day

(Mumpsimus is the central clearinghouse for Barzak Day info!)

I first met Chris Barzak more than nine years ago (?!?) at Clarion. He’d brought with him the coolest books-all of these Arkham House short story collections-and he also raved about this writer who no one else had heard of named Kelly Link, who had only published a few short stories at that time.

He was writing kick-ass stories in those six weeks, and during then and since we’ve come to be really good friends, writing compatriots, and co-editors…all of which I feel extremely lucky to say. He’s one of the writers I admire most-for a variety of reasons. Along with the keen intelligence, understanding of how to maximize genre without being beholden to it, and beautiful yet sharp prose, one of the things that Barzak, frankly, understands better than most writers is character and characterization. Sometimes I’m not exactly sure how he does it-in the way that I’m not sure how writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne or Grace Paley do it. The impeccable craft is there, yet Chris also works hard in his stories to not make it SEEM like it’s hard, if that makes sense. His work is daring and bracing, and can strike a lot of people in a lot of different ways.

Part of what makes his characters so unique and his work so thrilling to read is that this is always embedded in the fabulism-the two share the same DNA. It might come down to “people are weird”-but Chris’s pallette is the nearly infinite amount of variation of this common truth.

It’s no surprise, then, that One for Sorrow rocks. It’s a ghost story like no other, with people (your friends? family? neighbors? That weird girl who sat next to you in World History? You?) that you ought to recognize. Go buy it, talk about it, and keep an eye out for what else Chris will have in store for you!

Tue, August 28 2007 » Fiction, Life Studies

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