TITLE: From Here
AUTHOR: Jen Michalski
GENRE: Short story collection
PUBLISHER: Aqueous Books
PAGES: 266 pp.
BINDING: Perfect/ trade paperback
EDITION: 1st print
RELEASE DATE: Sept. 30, 2014
The twelve stories in From Here explore the dislocations and intersections of people searching, running away, staying put. Their physical and emotional landscapes run the gamut, but in the end, they’re all searching for a place to call home.
Jen Michalski’s novel, The Tide King, was published by Black Lawrence Press (2013; winner of the Big Moose Prize). She is the author of two collections of fiction, Close Encounters (So New, 2007), and From Here, as well as a collection of novellas, Could You Be With Her Now (Dzanc Books, 2013). In 2013, she was named one of “50 Women to Watch” by The Baltimore Sun and won a “Best of Baltimore” for “Best Writer” from Baltimore Magazine. Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is the founding editor of the literary quarterly, jmww, a co-host of the monthly reading series, The 510 Readings in Baltimore, and interviews writers at The Nervous Breakdown.
From the Chechnyan girl sucked into the drug world, the alcoholic professor who uses his daughter to dodge a rap, from hippie graffiti to the “wet clicking of a bird-like heart,” Jen Michalski writes down the beast, and you remember. Strong sentiment, strong stories.
—Terese Svoboda, 2013 Guggenheim Fellow and author of Tin God, Bohemian Girl, Black Glasses Like Clark Kent, others
The stories in From Here will take you by force, like “little bombs exploding in your back and stomach.” Their “dense, packed progressions” will devastate you, will absolutely “jackpot your heart,” and you will want to “stay really, really quiet” and “very, very still” until you feel stronger, or at least strong enough to “withstand a hurricane.” I am in love with these stories, the “pink-dark dusk” of the “living, breathing questions” they ask of us, and I am utterly and jaw-droppingly in awe of Jen Michalski’s tender and ruthless “love for the difficult.”
—Molly Gaudry, author of We Take Me Apart and Frequencies
From Here slices at the myths of All-Americana and delivers instead heartfelt stories that mirror America’s contemporary epidemic of neglect—neglect of others and of the self. The desires of the main characters in From Here are invariably in conflict with the desires of their loved ones, and of their souls. This is a collection of brokenness that cuts, of characters desperately trying to clean up the mess. Unlike so many of these struggling but striving characters, however, Jen Michalski, the writer and the heart, knows what truly needs attention.
—Ethel Rohan, author of Goodnight Nobody
Jen Michalski’s characters seem to breathe through the pages of this emotionally expansive collection. Each story is a world in which the reader will linger—not to seek refuge but to gain insight, and perhaps, find a kindred soul.
—Dawn Raffel, author of The Secret Life of Objects, In the Year of Long Division, and others
Oh to be Jen Michalski and conjure characters so real that your stories never truly end, each a novel-in-waiting. Readers must check their sentimentality at the door. Here there be monsters: fires, miscarriages, attempted suicides, abortions, dead rabbits, cancer, and a trip to Disney World. Reminiscent of Armistead Maupin’s work, From Here is a sometimes stark, totally honest, vivid collection of twelve stories featuring wounded, curious, lost, and hungry people, none of whom are poised to take over the world. Still, Michalski’s compassion, geographic palette (Baltimore, New Mexico, Southern Delaware, NYC), and exquisite details, makes me hope that somehow they all will.
—Richard Peabody, ed. Gargoyle Magazine
This is short fiction at its moody, character-driven best. The people you meet are so vivid and so sympathetic that their joys and sorrows will quickly become your own. I haven’t decided which is my favorite story, but I know my favorite line: “Good luck with your broken things.” Fantastic.
—Matthew Norman, author of Domestic Violets