Chicago playwright Chris Bower's debut collection of gloriously nasty, bleakly unhinged, and oddly compelling short stories marks the arrival of a truly original voice. Each page is lovingly illustrated by Chicago artist Susie Kirkwood and bursting with gorgeously unsettling tales of parents abandoning children out of spite, men sabotaging women out of love, and other oddments and ear worms.
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Chris Bower received an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005. Chris Bower’s fiction and poetry has appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, GetUnderground, Annalemma, and The 2nd Hand. The Chicago Reader calls his work "engrossingly grim" and his plays The Birthday Boy and Mascot received positive reviews from The Chicago Reader, Newcity, and Time Out Chicago.
Susie Kirkwood is a graphic designer and shadow puppeteer. Her work has been featured in Newcity, How, Print, Choi's Gallery Magazine, The Die Line, Ninth Letter, MAKE, and Handmade Packaging Workshop by Rachel Wiles and she has performed all over the country.
Susie also owns a jam-making company, providing jam and preserves for local Chicago grocers and teaching canning classes around the city.
"These stories by Chris Bower vomit uphill a compendium of beautiful losers, cummy snowmen, and such love. His longtime collaborator, illustrator Susie Kirkwood, opens the pages with freshly dark design and iconography, cleanly harmonious with Bower’s filth. The book is ultimately fun and deeply caring, and its author a gallow’s wit with theatrical instincts. You will find yourself, your loved ones, and our stupid feelings in this swill 'You’re going to remember this, even when you’re dead.'"
Fred Sasaki, art director for POETRY
"Chris Bower is a half-cracked comic-poet genius. Stop complaining, let him break your brain."
Patrick Sommerville, author of The Cradle and This Bright River
"While we argue realism and the dying book, Chris Bower puts on his mascot suit and goes dancing into the void. Do we follow him? If so, it's to demand an apology for withholding these stories until now. He is a giant of creativity and a genius of desperation, and his worlds full of broken promises, failed expectations, and delirious horse laughter represent the most obliquely realistic literature of our day. Buy this, own this, and return to this regularly."
Kyle Beachy, author of The Slide
"Big head, horse head, your head, my head. Inside them Chris Bower maps catacombs lined with even more heads. He voices a history of our new ground. Read him before the wrong parts of you die."
Janet Desaulniers, author of What You've Been Missing
"Chris Bower’s characters are the perfect subjects for the illustrations of Susie Kirkwood whimsical, human-shaped creatures with ill humor lurking in their flat darkness. The stories in this collection may ask what it means to be human, but the answers are entirely unexpected. Peer into these depths for too long and you might never be the same."
Zach Dodson, author of boring boring boring boring boring boring boring, co-founder of Featherproof Books
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