My Very End of the Universe is a celebration and study of an increasingly popular genre: the novella-in-flash, a novella built of standalone flash stories. The novellas in this collection—Betty Superman by Tiff Holland, Here, Where We Live by Meg Pokrass, Shampoo Horns by Aaron Teel, Bell and Bargain by Margaret Patton Chapman, and The Family Dogs by Chris Bower—are compact and specific, yet whole and universal, using the flexibility of the genre to offer a polyphony of setting and emotion. Accompanying each novella-in-flash is a craft essay by the author exploring the form’s power, uses, and unique characteristics. The book opens with a genre-defining introduction to the novella-in-flash by editors Abigail Beckel and Kathleen Rooney, which also offers historical and contemporary context.
Although the family struggles presented in these five novellas-in-flash are as old as time, the authors use the form to make them new and vital, each one presenting a self-contained galaxy of characters, while expanding—like the universe itself—into vaster realms of experience.
«The five novellas-in-flash in My Very End of the Universe are excellent type specimens of the genre, and the accompanying craft essays help give this chimeric form a theory and a practice. Writers interested in story structure owe it to themselves to add this book to their office bookshelves, but it’s adventurous readers who will surely benefit the most, finding themselves thrilled by the surprising tales within.»
Matt Bell, author of In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods
«My Very End of the Universe is indispensable reading for anyone who loves fiction that defies categorization—and for anyone who simply loves engrossing stories cast in superb prose. Each of these novellas-in-flash is exquisite in its own distinct way, and collectively they demonstrate what is possible when we break the traditional confines of form and dare to invent something new.»
Laura van den Berg, author of The Isle of Youth
«Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, family dogs, all the dramas, distilled, through flash, more potent than ever. My Very End of the Universe offers five outstanding examples of the novella-in-flash form itself, along with indispensable essays from the authors on what this blending of short and long can do.»
Jane Ciabattari, author of Stealing the Fire and California Tales
«In tornado-flung trailer parks and icy lakes, citrus groves and drugstore aisles, the characters of My Very End of the Universe yearn to soar like Superman but are, more often, prayed for. Daughters struggle to rescue mothers, sons clobber the weak, outlaws menace and bedazzle—and in 1893, a newborn says ‘Hello?’ in a tiny, astonishing voice. Compact, intense, and thrilling, these five novellas-in-flash show us that even in the smallest spaces, we can learn how to fly.»
Rebecca Meacham, author of Let’s Do and Morbid Curiosities
Chris Bower is a writer and teacher based in Chicago. He is the curator and host of the Ray’s Tap Reading Series and a founding member of Found Objects Theatre Group. Little Boy Needs Ride, his book of short stories with illustrations by Susie Kirkwood, is forthcoming in 2015 from Curbside Splendor Publishing. You can find him at holdmyhorses.com.
Margaret Patton Chapman received her MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her short fiction has appeared in Wigleaf, The Collagist, SmokeLong, Elimae, and in the anthology The Way We Sleep, among others. She is prose editor for decomP magazine, and currently lives in Durham, North Carolina.
Tiff Holland is originally from Ohio. She attended The Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. Her poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction appear regularly in literary magazines and anthologies and have won several awards. Her novella-in-flash Betty Superman won the Rose Metal Press Fifth Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest in 2011. She has taught creative writing and literature at Kent State, University of Southern Mississippi, and Austin Community College. She currently lives in Hawaii.
Meg Pokrass is the author of Damn Sure Right (Press 53, 2011) and Bird Envy (Printed on Paige, 2014). Her flash fiction appears in 200 literary journals including Green Mountains Review, Five Points, storySouth, McSweeney’s, and Flash Fiction International (W.W. Norton, 2015). Meg serves as associate editor for Rick Barthelme’s New World Writing. She lives in San Francisco with a dog and two cats. Find out more at megpokrass.com.
Aaron Teel hails from Austin, Texas, and is currently an MFA fiction fellow at Washington University in St. Louis. His work has appeared previously in Tin House, Smokelong Quarterly, Monkeybicycle, Brevity, and others. His novella-in-flash Shampoo Horns won the Rose Metal Press Sixth Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest in 2012.