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Micro-chap preview: “And It Will Be Called The Highway of Holiness,” by Brian Phillip Whalen

The micro-chapbook is finished for Brian Phillip Whalen’s And It Will Be Called The Highway of Holiness. Take a look at some preview photos below.

This limited-edition title will be released next week as a pre-order bonus for Melissa Reddish’s Girl & Flame. Only fifty numbered copies of this micro-chap will be released! Supplies are expected to run out soon. If the bonus micro-chap is still listed the Girl & Flame pre-order page then we’ve still got copies left.

“Girls,” by Debbie Vance

Water Splash

The ground is sinking quicker now, quicker than ever before, and all the people know it. Some leave, drive cars down river-roads, tires spinning without moving forward. Quickly, they abandon cars and steer boats, row or motor until the bow hits dry land somewhere else. But others stay, drink cheap beer, laugh as the water rises past their calves, knees, tickles their swamp-sweaty thighs. Their houses are set on stilts, but the water rises so high they must climb stairs to the second floor, to the attic. The water does not surprise them, but that doesn’t make it any more believable.

The water can’t hurt us, the parents say, as it fills their mouths.

Three girls stand on the roof of the house where their parents drink in the attic and watch the water rise, swallow fences, chicken coops, windows. Dogs try to keep their muzzles above water, but the girls do not try to save them—the fences, the dogs, the dollhouse in the first floor bedroom below—everyone has already drowned. The doll’s paper bodies disintegrate in the kitchen. Their paper molecules absorb into the water.

Do you think it’ll ever end, one girl asks. Probably not, the other two answer. Once the land begins to sink, it has nowhere to go but down. The water teases the shingles, cold on the toes of the girls, and like eels they slide in. They swim away from what was once their town, south toward the open ocean. They keep their heads above water, their eyes shut against the bodies buried below—the dogs, the dolls, the parents—it is enough to feel the molecules of them, dissolved, brush against their legs like seaweed.

In fairy tales, girls may undergo transformation. Here, they might become speckled trout or redfish or oysters. But in some stories, other stories, they do not.

About the Author:

Debbie Vance’s fiction has appeared most recently in Flyway, The Boiler, and Alligator Juniper. She is a 2015 Pushcart Prize nominee and an MFA candidate at Colorado State University, where she teaches composition and research.

Image Credit: © cherryka – stock.adobe.com

NewPages reviews “Souvenirs and Other Stories”

Souvenirs 3d Book Mock-UpNewPages has a new review posted of Souvenirs and Other Stories, by Matt Tompkins.

The reviewer, Katy Haas, spends much of her review talking about character development. She notes the plain and calm demeanor of Matt’s narrators as they grapple with the surreal, as if each is hoping “to just make it through the life they’re given.” Katy closes her review by saying “In Souvenirs & Other Stories, Tompkins shoves the door wide open and welcomes the surreal into reality. With characters and situations that are relatable despite their oddities, readers are sure to connect with this pocket-sized collection of flash souvenirs.” We couldn’t agree more!

Take a look at the entire review here, and purchase your own copy of Souvenirs here.

Brian Phillip Whalen selected for “Fragmented” micro-chap

Last month, Melissa Reddish guest edited a special “Fragmented” call for submissions. After careful deliberation, Melissa selected Brian Phillip Whalen‘s “And It Will Be Called the Highway of Holiness” for publication. The piece will be made into a limited-run micro-chapbook, and it will be delivered as a free pre-order bonus with Melissa’s new book, Girl & Flame.

Brian Phillip Whalen’s poems and stories have appeared in Beecher’s, The Chattahoochee Review, Cream City Review, J Journal, Lake EffectMid-American Review, North American Review, RHINO, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from Iowa State University and a PhD from SUNY-Albany. He lives in upstate New York with his wife and baby daughter.

Here’s what Melissa had to say about her final selection:

“Brian Phillip Whalen’s story, ‘And It Will be Called the Highway of Holiness,’ is part-hymn, part-celebration, part-dirge for Georgia, poor pup with staples in her gut who eats everything, babies and tinsel and foxes and trikes and Christmas trees, until her inevitable end.  The people who orbit around Georgia have a particular feel: blue-collar rural Americans with F-150 flat-bed trucks and tractors and percolators and steel wool under cupboards, each battling their own particular demons.  More circular than linear, more poetry than prose, the piece skips and glides with linguistic playfulness and clever asides, the format fragmenting then reassembling, creating meaning even as it dismantles it, all while retaining the emotional heart at the center.”

—Melissa Reddish, author of Girl & Flame