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  Partner: UNT Press
 Serial/Series Title: Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction series
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A Bright Soothing Noise

A Bright Soothing Noise

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Date: May 15, 2010
Creator: Brown, Peter
Description: Stan Kenton (1911–1979) formed his first full orchestra in 1940 and soon drew record-breaking crowds to hear and dance to his exciting sound. He continued to tour and record unrelentingly for the next four decades. Stan Kenton: This Is an Orchestra! sums up the mesmerizing bandleader at the height of his powers, arms waving energetically, his face a study of concentration as he cajoled, coaxed, strained, and obtained the last ounce of energy from every musician under his control. Michael Sparke’s narrative captures that enthusiasm in words: a lucid account of the evolution of the Kenton Sound, and the first book to offer a critical evaluation of the role that Stan played in its creation. “Michael Sparke’s book, the first general history of the Kenton Orchestra, is the best evaluation yet of Kenton’s 40-year musical development.”—The Wall Street Journal
Contributing Partner: UNT Press
In These Times the Home Is a Tired Place: Stories

In These Times the Home Is a Tired Place: Stories

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Date: November 15, 2013
Creator: Hollander, Jessica
Description: When an unwed pregnant woman is pressured to get married by her boyfriend, parents, and the entire culture around her, she sees a feverish intensity emanating from the path to domesticity, a “paved path shaded by thick-trunked trees, lined with trim grass and manicured mansions, where miniature houses play mailboxes and animals play lawn ornaments and people play happiness.” Jessica Hollander’s debut collection exposes a culture that glorifies and disparages traditional domesticity, where people’s confusion, apathy, and anxiety about the institutions of marriage and family often drive them to self-destruction. The world in Hollander’s nineteen stories appears at once familiar and vividly unsettling, with undercurrents of anger and violence attached to everyday objects and spaces: a pink room is “a woman exploded,” home smells “of laundered clothes and gas from the grill,” and the sun “is so bright the sky fills with over-exposure, wilting the corners to orange, to red, to black.” Here people adopt extreme and erratic behavior: hack at furniture, have affairs with high school students, fantasize about sex with “monsters,” laden flower bouquets with messages of hate; but these self-destructive acts and fantasies feel strangely like a form of growth or enlightenment, or at least the only ...
Contributing Partner: UNT Press
Irish Girl: Stories

Irish Girl: Stories

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Date: November 2009
Creator: Johnston, Tim, 1962-
Description: Inside Tim Johnston's Irish Girl, readers will find spellbinding stories of loss, absence, and the devastating effects of chance—of what happens when the unthinkable bad luck of other people, of other towns, becomes our bad luck, our town. The contents include: Dirt men -- Water -- Things go missing -- Antlerless hunt -- Jumping man -- Lucky gorseman -- Up there -- Irish girl.
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Last Known Position

Last Known Position

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Date: November 15, 2008
Creator: Mathews, James
Description: Most of the nine stories in Last Known Position were written upon James Mathews’ return from combat deployment to the Middle East with the D.C. Air National Guard. Life under fire provided the author with both dramatic events and a heightened sense of observation, allowing him to suggest the stress of combat as the driving factor behind extreme yet believable characterization and action. Military experiences and settings cause certain human elements and truisms to emerge more profoundly and dramatically. These stories portray desperate characters driven to make desperate choices. Always on the edge of a dark and unpleasant reality, Mathews’ characters survive by embracing fantasy, humor, violence, and sometimes redemption. Each story bears its own brand of hopeless quirkiness. Four teenagers on an army base steal a grenade and are stalked by a parade horse. A drifter returns home to rob the grandparents who raised him. A national guardsman faces a homicidal superior officer in Iraq on the eve of war. An elderly man worries that his wife’s new house guests are unrepentant cannibals. Always tense, sometimes ridiculous, and never dull, Last Known Position brings the reader to places unknown before and unforgettable after.
Contributing Partner: UNT Press
Let's Do

Let's Do

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Date: December 15, 2004
Creator: Meacham, Rebecca
Description: In the nine stories of Let’s Do, various calamities strike ordinary Midwesterners, who cope with a mixture of good intentions and ineptitude. Balancing humor with painful clarity, author Rebecca Meacham pulls readers into the lives of characters who struggle with—and more often against—change. “Rebecca Meacham has one of the freshest voices I've encountered in a long time. Blatantly wise, she creates stories that are deliciously subversive, brave and outrageous, reminiscent of a young Alice Hoffman. As the lives of her characters get derailed, they move with the damaged grace of walking through broken glass on tiptoe. This is a writer whose words speak with emotional resonance about the resilience of the human heart—a beautiful, authentic talent who knows that when you turn life upside down, you get good measures of both trouble and laughter, a lesson the very best writers recognize early.”—Jonis Agee, judge
Contributing Partner: UNT Press
Out of Time: Stories

Out of Time: Stories

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Date: November 15, 2011
Creator: Schmidt, Geoff
Description: A sweet slipstream stew, a call and response to Hemingway’s In Our Time, Geoff Schmidt’s debut collection Out of Time is a meditation on meaning and mortality, and the ways that story and the imagined life can sustain us. In these stories, vengeful infants destroy and rebuild the world, rivalrous siblings and their mother encounter witches and ghosts and the possessed, Barack Obama and Keith Richards smoke their last cigarettes, men and women with cancer variously don gorilla suits or experience all time simultaneously. Time is running out for all of the people in these stories, yet the power of language, the human ability to tell, to imagine and invent, is a redemptive force. “The stories in Out of Time chase after the secrets and sorrows of families, revealing the lengths people will go, and the harm they will do, to keep their worlds together. These characters are not crazy, they are in love and afraid. Geoff Schmidt writes a lucid, new mythology in prose that's limned with fear and awe. To read these stories is to feel the force and urgency of a new and vital literary voice.”—Ben Marcus, author of Age of Wire and String, and judge
Contributing Partner: UNT Press
Venus in the Afternoon: Stories

Venus in the Afternoon: Stories

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Date: November 15, 2012
Creator: Lieberman, Tehila
Description: The short stories in this rich debut collection embody in their complexity Alice Munro’s description of the short story as “a world seen in a quick, glancing light.” In chiseled and elegant prose, Lieberman conjures wildly disparate worlds. A middle aged window washer, mourning his wife and an estranged daughter, begins to grow attached to a young woman he sees through the glass; a writer, against his better judgment, pursues a new relationship with a femme fatale who years ago broke his heart; and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor struggles with the delicate decision of whether to finally ask her aging mother how it was that she survived. It is all here—the exigencies of love, of lust, the raw, unlit terrain of grief. Whether plumbing the darker depths or casting a humorous eye on a doomed relationship, these stories never force a choice between tragedy and redemption, but rather invite us into the private moments and crucibles of lives as hungry and flawed as our own. “Quiet, moving, masterfully crafted. Such are the nine stories in Venus in the Afternoon. Tehila Lieberman writes with precision, restraint, with a compassionate heart. She inhabits her characters, young or old, men or ...
Contributing Partner: UNT Press
What Are You Afraid Of?

What Are You Afraid Of?

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Date: November 15, 2005
Creator: Hyde, Michael
Description: Powerful and haunting, the ten stories of this debut collection imagine a world where dreams and reality merge, often with dangerous consequences. Michael Hyde explores the relationships between illusion and reality, delusion and clarity, as his characters come to realize that the revelations they wholeheartedly pursue are often not the ones that await them and will move them. A teenage girl obsessed with the death of a classmate hopes to become the killer's next victim, a wayward graveyard attendant punishes the dead for his punishments in life, and a ghostly vision in a garden shed offers a catalyst for one woman's change. "Michael Hyde’s stories are strangely satisfying and satisfyingly strange. They combine the gothic sensibility of Flannery O’Connor and the restrained prose of Raymond Carver. These are tales of love-in-extremis. They should be taken as a tonic before bedtime, to stir up our dreams and awaken our compassion."—Sharon Oard Warner, judge, author of Learning to Dance and Deep in the Heart
Contributing Partner: UNT Press
Wonderful Girl

Wonderful Girl

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Date: November 15, 2007
Creator: LaBrie, Aimee
Description: This extraordinary first collection of short stories covers the landscape of dysfunctional childhood, urban angst, and human disconnection with a wit and insight that keep you riveted to the page. The characters here have rich and imaginative interior lives, but grave difficulty relating to the outside world. The beginning story, "Ducklings," introduces the over-weight and over-enthusiastic Marjorie, the last twelve-year-old you would want babysitting your toddler. In "Wanted" we meet Eleanor, a single girl living in Chicago who may or may not be dating a serial killer. "Another Cancer Story" is an unsentimental account of two sisters whose beloved mother just won't seem to die, and "The Last Dead Boyfriend" gives us a recovering addict who keeps encountering her recently deceased boyfriend, an unpleasant man she wished she'd broken up with before he died. Always funny, often dark, and wholly satisfying, these stories explore the longing for connection among characters who are frequently stricken with anxiety. Each story is rendered in a way that is surreal, vivid, and entirely convincing. "Wonderful Girl is a smart, funny collection, by turns poignant, mysterious, terrifying, sexy, often just plain nuts (in a good way!). The characters in these stories are deliciously confused but ...
Contributing Partner: UNT Press