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Pre-Orders Now Available for “Souvenirs,” by Matt Tompkins

Souvenirs Cover Mock UpPre-orders are now available for Souvenirs and Other Stories, by Matt Tompkins! This title is scheduled for release on June 15th, 2016.

Souvenirs and Other Stories contains six absurd and surreal stories—a father evaporates, items mysteriously appear and fill an apartment, an eye surgery causes optical hallucinations, and more. Beth Gilstrap, author of I Am Barbarella, calls this collection “a strange, heartbreaking, and often darkly comical book,” and Sheldon Lee Compton, author of Brown Bottle, says “No one else today is plumbing the depths of the human spirit and its limits in quite the same way as Tompkins.”

Matt Tompkins is the author of Studies in Hybrid Morphology (available now from tNY Press), and his stories have appeared in Little Patuxent ReviewNew Haven ReviewPost Road, and other journals. For a limited time, pre-orders are just $10.00 for the collection that Jen Grow, author of My Life as a Mermaid, calls a “thoroughly entertaining, a smart and funny collection from a wildly imaginative writer.”

Announcing the 2016 Conium Press publication lineup

The Conium Review has expanded over the past year, and we’re excited to make books and chapbooks a regular part of our publishing platform. In 2016, Conium Press will be releasing two standalone titles: Girl & Flame, by Melissa Reddish and Souvenirs and Other Stories, by Matt Tompkins.

We’ll post incremental updates about both of these releases as the 2016 publication calendar moves forward. Thanks for reading, writing, and supporting our small press.

Melissa Reddish author photoGirl & Flame is a novella told in a series of innovative flash vignettes. The protagonist bonds with a piece of flame leftover from an inferno that consumed her brother, father, and lover. Through this relationship, the protagonist explores her complicated family history and her place in the world. Melissa’s novella pairs experimental syntax with magical realist and surrealist snapshots into the lives of the girl, the flame, and the ghosts and ashes left behind.

Melissa Reddish’s short story collection, My Father is an Angry Storm Cloud, was published by Tailwinds Press earlier this year. Her flash fiction chapbook, The Distance Between Us, was published by Red Bird Chapbooks in 2013. Her work has appeared in decomP, Prick of the Spindle, and Northwind, among others. Melissa teaches English and directs the Honors Program at Wor-Wic Community College.

Follow Melissa on Twitter @MelissaReddish, or visit or website at MelissaReddish.com.

Matt Tompkins author photoSouvenirs and Other Stories is a collection of six absurd and surreal stories, each presented as a first-person monologue. Throughout the collection, a father evaporates, items mysteriously appear and fill an apartment, an eye surgery causes optical hallucinations, and more. These strange occurrences are often paired with touches of earnest humor, but they also probe authentic emotional responses when the levity fades.

Matt Tompkins is the author of Studies in Hybrid Morphology, forthcoming from tNY Press in 2016. His stories have been published in H_NGM_NAtticus ReviewCheap PopPost RoadGigantic Sequins, and elsewhere. Matt works in a library and lives in upstate New York with his wife, daughter, and cat.

Visit Matt’s website at NeedsRevision.com.

The Conium Review welcomes two new fiction editors

The Conium Review welcomes two new fiction editors to the masthead: Sarah Colwill-Brown and Justin Carmickle.

Sarah Colwill-Brown was a finalist in our 2014 Flash Fiction Contest, and her story “Short” was published on The Conium Review Online Compendium. She’s the marketing manager for GrubStreet, a nonprofit creative writing center in Boston, MA. She holds an MA in English Literature from Boston College, where she served as assistant managing editor of Post Road. Follow Sarah on Twitter or check out her blog here.

Justin Carmickle earned his MFA in fiction at Virginia Commonwealth University, where he served as Assistant Literary Editor of Blackbird. His fiction has appeared in Louisiana Literature,  Mary, and Midwestern Gothic. He begins his PhD in English at the University of Southern Mississippi this fall.

Read more about Sarah, Justin, or our other talented staff on our masthead page.

“Short,” by Sarah Colwill-Brown

Scissors Sketch

Mathew walked into the bathroom as Ivy trimmed her pubic hair over the toilet. She sat on the seat, legs splayed, cutting down between her thighs. Tight coils of hair fell silent into the bowl.

Could you buy an umbrella on your way home from work, she asked.

Mathew selected his toothbrush from the water-stained holder.

What for?

Because I don’t want to take my shit broken orange Walgreens umbrella that won’t cover us both.

She wasn’t looking at him, her head bent over, inspecting her work. Her words fell between her legs.

How do you know it will rain tomorrow?

My phone said so.

I’ll see what I can do.

His mouth was full of toothpaste foam, his voice thick with distortion.

Ivy finished her task, brushed strays into the water that had collected on the lip of the seat. She stood; she flushed, sending the hair up the U-bend. She leaned over Mathew to replace the curved nail scissors in the cabinet, next to his range of colognes, all a version of Ralph Lauren Polo. Everything in there rested on a layer of skin cells and ginger rust.

Ivy closed the bathroom door behind her; Mathew continued brushing.

As the bristles ran rhythmically along his front teeth, Mathew wondered when he last saw Ivy trimming her hair. Six months at least. They had long since stopped grooming for each other. This was how they always saw one another: in varying states of dishevelment and dress, on the way out to the office or the school where Ivy worked. Once, she promised she would always keep it short.

The wedding tomorrow would be attended by many lawyers and doctors, perhaps even a smattering of successful arty types—filmmakers, gallery owners, and the like. The couple to be were socialites of a sort.

Mathew switched to the bottom row of teeth, the brush head pounding into the soft flesh of his cheek. She didn’t do it for him. He spat into the sink and wiped his mouth.

The door clicked shut behind her. Ivy crossed the hall in bare feet and entered their bedroom. The air conditioning unit had lingered too long in the window; it was well into fall. Ivy’s legs hardened into goose-bumps, a legion of tiny hairs stood straight in their raised follicles.

She fixed the bedclothes and pulled on a lacy thong then black leggings. Her pubic hair, newly blunted, pushed through the lace. She felt the memory of prickly skin that always followed the trimming, exacerbated by a day of walking around, crossing her legs when she sat, her underwear an incubator for irritation. The prickly heat would be hers again by the time she got in from work that evening.

Each time she cut her hair, she was reminded of the sixteen-year-old she used to be who vowed she would never cut.

When had she begun to feel underdressed, un-finished, if she didn’t cut? The dark silk dress she’d picked out for the wedding would be a lie, a cover-up, if the hair between her legs was not bristly and short. The wild growth contained.

Ivy pulled her long blouse over her head as Mathew exited the bathroom, straightening his tie, checking his reflection in the hallway mirror. Ivy watched him leave, his suit jacket disappearing through the front door. Once, he said it turned his stomach to see it long.

About the Author:

Sarah Colwill-Brown is a British expat living in Boston and studying for a master’s in English at Boston College. She is also assistant managing editor at Post Road magazine. A student of the Novel Incubator program at Boston’s Grub Street Writing Center, she is currently working on a novel, Channeling, about a twenty-seven-year-old virgin living with his phony spiritualist mother in New Orleans.

Special Note:

This story was a finalist in The Conium Review‘s 2014 Flash Fiction Contest, judged by Ashley Farmer.

Image Credit: © Andrii_Oliinyk / Dollar Photo Club