Soft Fruit in the Sun

by Oliver Zarandi


This is the sort of collection you can start reading at any spot and come away with the same impression: This author is a talented lunatic. Which I mean, of course, in a good way. Murder, sex, more sex, revulsion, depression, antipathy, and sociopathy—all of it can be funny and here it is. You might call this smart bizarro (which there’s not enough of). Readers might also see a little bit of Bukowski in these pages.



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Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock

by Hillary Leftwich


Leftwich is a gifted stylist, her prose characterized by novel word choices and phrasings that never go astray. The concerns here are human broadly speaking, issues of life and death, relationships, and emotions; but Leftwich’s work shouldn’t be mistaken for standard suburban minimalism. Her perspective is dark and off-center making these stories both surprising and a pleasure to read.



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Bone Chalk

by Jim Reese


Bone Chalk is Midwestern Americana at its best. Ringing of truth down to the last thought and gesture, Reese creates a modern portrait of small town life; one Norman Rockwell definitely wouldn’t recognize. Built on prose that never fusses or falters, humor, and the endless intrigues that are there in everyday life—if you just know where to look—this is the sort of book you’ll pick up and finish in one sitting and be glad you did.



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Ghosts of You

by Cathy Ulrich


A flash collection about murdered women, the feminist focus is obvious and important. The stories here are sharply written, powerful, and, at times, funny. And there is no avoiding the truth at the heart of this book: women’s lives and deaths are still seen by many people as of lesser value than those of men. So much so that in art, the dead woman as a plot device remains a grim, all-too-common reality.



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Missing Signal

by Seb Doubinsky


The latest installment in Doubinsky’s hilariously horrifying City States cycle, Missing Signal is a satirical acid trip into a fractured, future Europe. Brief, biting, and brimming with conspiracies, this is social commentary that succeeds because it never takes itself too seriously. Viva la revolucion! Viva la Doubinsky!




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by Jordan A. Rothacker


With their languid prose and religious touchpoints, these stories feel almost as if they’re drawn from an earlier time. Redolent in places of writers like Garcia Marquez and Mahfouz, Gristle is a collection concerned not so much with the mundanities of plot and story but with sensory perceptions and capturing the living essence of specific moments. 



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by Farooq Ahmed


A wild re-imagining of the American Civil War as it might have been lived in Islamic Kansas—let that sink in—this is the tale of a sociopathic goatherd who lives in seething isolation atop a minaret—now, let that sink in. Challenging and remorselessly funny, Kansastan shows Ahmed turning his satirist’s eye to Islamic myth and history, the nature of fanaticism, and much more.


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KURT BAUMEISTER reviews books for The Nervous Breakdown. His writing has appeared in Salon, Electric Literature, Guernica, Entropy, Volume 1 Brooklyn, Rain Taxi, The Rumpus, The Weeklings, The Good Men Project, and others. His debut novel PAX AMERICANA was published in 2017 by Stalking Horse Press. Find him at www.kurtbaumeister.com.

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