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A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women

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Fiction. The four chapbooks collected in A PECULIAR FEELING OF RESTLESSNESS, three of them finalists and one of them the winner of the Rose Metal Press first annual short short chapbook contest, all revel in the succinctness of their form, the underlying tension anchored beneath each story of 1,000 words or less. These stories are peculiar; they resonate with restlessness. Fiction. The four chapbooks collected in A PECULIAR FEELING OF RESTLESSNESS, three of them finalists and one of them the winner of the Rose Metal Press first annual short short chapbook contest, all revel in the succinctness of their form, the underlying tension anchored beneath each story of 1,000 words or less. These stories are peculiar; they resonate with restlessness. They are deft, they are gritty, and they are lyrical. Laughter, Applause. Laughter, Music, Applause by Kathy Fish, Wanting by Amy L. Clark, Sixteen Miles Outside of Phoenix by Elizabeth Ellen, and The Sky Is a Well by Claudia Smith combine four multi-layered portrayals of beautiful uneasiness into a collection rich with wit, grace, and originality.


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Fiction. The four chapbooks collected in A PECULIAR FEELING OF RESTLESSNESS, three of them finalists and one of them the winner of the Rose Metal Press first annual short short chapbook contest, all revel in the succinctness of their form, the underlying tension anchored beneath each story of 1,000 words or less. These stories are peculiar; they resonate with restlessness. Fiction. The four chapbooks collected in A PECULIAR FEELING OF RESTLESSNESS, three of them finalists and one of them the winner of the Rose Metal Press first annual short short chapbook contest, all revel in the succinctness of their form, the underlying tension anchored beneath each story of 1,000 words or less. These stories are peculiar; they resonate with restlessness. They are deft, they are gritty, and they are lyrical. Laughter, Applause. Laughter, Music, Applause by Kathy Fish, Wanting by Amy L. Clark, Sixteen Miles Outside of Phoenix by Elizabeth Ellen, and The Sky Is a Well by Claudia Smith combine four multi-layered portrayals of beautiful uneasiness into a collection rich with wit, grace, and originality.

30 review for A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women

  1. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Ann

    I’ve been locked in my den with my bulldog while my stairwell is being painted. It was a good time to read a book titled. “A PECULIAR FEELING OF RESTLESSNESS.” I had read and loved Claudia Smith’s flash collection. Her voice is soft yet powerful and her stories of childhood and coming of age linger with you long after the read. I was very anxious to read the others, particularly Kathy Fish. Like Claudia, Kathy Fish looks intently at childhood. Children center many of her stories, children who su I’ve been locked in my den with my bulldog while my stairwell is being painted. It was a good time to read a book titled. “A PECULIAR FEELING OF RESTLESSNESS.” I had read and loved Claudia Smith’s flash collection. Her voice is soft yet powerful and her stories of childhood and coming of age linger with you long after the read. I was very anxious to read the others, particularly Kathy Fish. Like Claudia, Kathy Fish looks intently at childhood. Children center many of her stories, children who survive in funny, smart and tolerant ways. No wimps in Kathy’s stories. No, these kids manage just fine. It’s the adults we worry about. And when she brings her camera over to our adult universe, we are amused, worried, saddened all at once. Her lens is clear and yet opaque at the same time.The writing in all of these stories is layered and complex. Kathy can put a character on a page in a mere breath of words. A moment is captured with tremendous skill and power, and then she leaves us, as if to say, here is one moment, figure out the life. I also enjoyed Amy Clark and Elizabeth Ellen, who concentrate on youthful relationships and quirky participants. The voices are restless and sometimes out of control. Both of these writers have a sense of irony, wit, and both seem to love to experiment. Fun, lively reads. I really enjoyed both of them. A great collection. Fast read. It can fit inside a brief case, or pocket book. Take it anywhere.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    Fantastic. They are as stated, short, short stories, so the inclination is to whip through them because they are such wonderful reads. But, as is the case with most shorter works, savoring them and sitting with them a bit is ideal. Thus far I can only say this is a great collection of work. I am so glad I got this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alina Stefanescu

    I don't think I could love this book enough. Or maybe I did. Maybe I loved it so hard the spine cracked. And now I have to order another copy. I don't think I could love this book enough. Or maybe I did. Maybe I loved it so hard the spine cracked. And now I have to order another copy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Review of A PECULIAR FEELING OF RESTLESSNESS by Paul D'Agostino at American Book Review: http://americanbookreview.org/PDF/Lin... Review at Quick Fiction: http://quickfiction.org/features/stor... Link to Time Out Chicago article by Jonathan Messinger: http://www.timeout.com/chicago/articl... Link to interview with Kelly Spitzer on the Quick Fiction website: http://www.quickfiction.org/features/... Link to interview with Rose Metal Press by Jim Ruland at Elegant Variation: http://marksarvas.blogs.com/ Review of A PECULIAR FEELING OF RESTLESSNESS by Paul D'Agostino at American Book Review: http://americanbookreview.org/PDF/Lin... Review at Quick Fiction: http://quickfiction.org/features/stor... Link to Time Out Chicago article by Jonathan Messinger: http://www.timeout.com/chicago/articl... Link to interview with Kelly Spitzer on the Quick Fiction website: http://www.quickfiction.org/features/... Link to interview with Rose Metal Press by Jim Ruland at Elegant Variation: http://marksarvas.blogs.com/elegvar/2...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    This book is one of the reasons I chose Rose Metal to publish the flash field guide. I love the innovative work that they are publishing and the way they present it. Putting the winner and three finalists into one book? Brilliant. Designing the running feet so that the little dingbats reflect what chapbook you are in? Wonderful detail. My personal taste makes me appreciate Kathy Fish's and Claudia Smith's work more, but still, there are brilliant stories in the other two chapbooks, like Clark's " This book is one of the reasons I chose Rose Metal to publish the flash field guide. I love the innovative work that they are publishing and the way they present it. Putting the winner and three finalists into one book? Brilliant. Designing the running feet so that the little dingbats reflect what chapbook you are in? Wonderful detail. My personal taste makes me appreciate Kathy Fish's and Claudia Smith's work more, but still, there are brilliant stories in the other two chapbooks, like Clark's "The Exact Reason There Has Been a Car in Our Front Yard for Four Years" and Ellen's "Before You She Was a Pit Bull" to make me rate this 5 stars overall. A must read for flash fans.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    It's such a good book because the voices are so different, but all four writers write these funny, heartbreaking, smart, fast, well-detailed, odd and beautiful stories. I've already read the whole thing twice, and I'm sure I'll read it again. It's fun to read, even when it's breaking your heart. Kudos! Kudos to all! It's such a good book because the voices are so different, but all four writers write these funny, heartbreaking, smart, fast, well-detailed, odd and beautiful stories. I've already read the whole thing twice, and I'm sure I'll read it again. It's fun to read, even when it's breaking your heart. Kudos! Kudos to all!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pia

    The four unique chapbooks that make up A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness are disarmingly, unabashedly intimate collections by women who know how to tell a story and aren’t afraid to drag the unspoken out into the light of day.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Simon Smith

    This was a very good read. Four chapbooks by four very talented ladies. I sort of felt like I was getting a glimpse into the multi-layered, fragile and sometimes ferocious psyche of women here... and I must say it was equal parts enlightening, fascinating and scary, which are pretty much the ingredients for good fiction anyway. I truly did like all of the collections that made up the book, but I think my favorite may have been Kathy Fish's "Laughter, Applause. Laughter, Music, Applause." First of This was a very good read. Four chapbooks by four very talented ladies. I sort of felt like I was getting a glimpse into the multi-layered, fragile and sometimes ferocious psyche of women here... and I must say it was equal parts enlightening, fascinating and scary, which are pretty much the ingredients for good fiction anyway. I truly did like all of the collections that made up the book, but I think my favorite may have been Kathy Fish's "Laughter, Applause. Laughter, Music, Applause." First off, what an interesting and damn fine title! And also, I really fell for her characters. It's hard to construct lasting, complex and sympathetic characters in under 1,000 words but Kathy (and everyone else, too) did a real bang up job here. Nicely done. Buy it. Read it. Support independent presses.

  9. 5 out of 5

    David

    tiny little stories that cast huge shadows over everything. you might be hurtling through tunnels in new york city or driving along concrete highways in dallas and sentences stay with you, illuminating and making every crack in the sidewalk stand out. every lightpost with anti-war grafitti shine. overflowing public garbage cans become still-lifes. you get to elizabeth ellen's story, how the homeless funambulist and lonely somnambulist met and shared a melon, and you shut the book and take in the tiny little stories that cast huge shadows over everything. you might be hurtling through tunnels in new york city or driving along concrete highways in dallas and sentences stay with you, illuminating and making every crack in the sidewalk stand out. every lightpost with anti-war grafitti shine. overflowing public garbage cans become still-lifes. you get to elizabeth ellen's story, how the homeless funambulist and lonely somnambulist met and shared a melon, and you shut the book and take in the light that comes in through your dirty rented window and settles perfectly in a square on your rented hardwood floor. you stop for one moment and everything falls away. a breath. before it all comes crashing back to you. a cold radiator or the chugging of the window air conditioner.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    If you're a fan of flash fiction, this book is essential. A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness collects in one volume four different short-short chapbooks from four different writers, all remarkably different, all remarkably adept at the craft. There isn't a weak one in the bunch. My very favorite is Kathy Fish's "Laughter, Applause, Laughter, Music, Applause," alone worth the price of the book. If J.D. Salinger wrote flashes, they'd be somewhat like hers. But this comparison might be doing her wo If you're a fan of flash fiction, this book is essential. A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness collects in one volume four different short-short chapbooks from four different writers, all remarkably different, all remarkably adept at the craft. There isn't a weak one in the bunch. My very favorite is Kathy Fish's "Laughter, Applause, Laughter, Music, Applause," alone worth the price of the book. If J.D. Salinger wrote flashes, they'd be somewhat like hers. But this comparison might be doing her work a disservice; her voice is entirely and uniquely her own.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rusty

    My gawrsh. I knew of the work of 3/4 of these women before beginning, so I expected, frankly, a lot, but I'm stunned by the intricacies of detail, disarming frankness, and altogether skilled prose in this book. If you want to see how words hit hearts, start here. My gawrsh. I knew of the work of 3/4 of these women before beginning, so I expected, frankly, a lot, but I'm stunned by the intricacies of detail, disarming frankness, and altogether skilled prose in this book. If you want to see how words hit hearts, start here.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jayne

    This is a wonderful collection of short fiction, full of intimacy and surprise. The characters, partuclarly the children, are ones that stay with a reader long after the last page is read. Highly recommend.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jason Jordan

    This book is great, both in premise and execution, providing you enjoy short shorts. The authors' work varies, but their contributions fit together quite well. I can't say who my favorite is, though Claudia Smith technically won the chapbook contest. This book is great, both in premise and execution, providing you enjoy short shorts. The authors' work varies, but their contributions fit together quite well. I can't say who my favorite is, though Claudia Smith technically won the chapbook contest.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    Stunning, mesmerizing, polished, perplexing little pieces of fiction. So good I rationed myself, reading just three per night.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Myfanwy

    Please check out my review at Quick Fiction: http://quickfiction.org/features/stor... thanks! Please check out my review at Quick Fiction: http://quickfiction.org/features/stor... thanks!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    These women can write! I really appreciated all these chapbooks together. These stories are treasures. I savored each piece in this book--and my heart kept breaking over and over.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Take this on the train with you. It'll make your life better. Take this on the train with you. It'll make your life better.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Really top notch collection featuring four of the best female writers in the small press world today. Elizabeth Ellen is, of course, an all-time favorite but Claudia Smith steals the show here. Wow.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Abby Beckel and I published this, so I'm biased, but this is a fantastic anthology. Abby Beckel and I published this, so I'm biased, but this is a fantastic anthology.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nan

    This is a great compilation of short short stories by wonderful short short story writers. It's full of humor, hope, sorrow. Each piece is distilled to crystal clarity. This is a great compilation of short short stories by wonderful short short story writers. It's full of humor, hope, sorrow. Each piece is distilled to crystal clarity.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Allison Renner

    A collection of four novellas in flash by four amazing women. Each collection was so different, but worked together beautifully with the others included.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bud Smith

    Great book. Kathy Fish's part was pretty incredible. Enjoyed it greatly. Great book. Kathy Fish's part was pretty incredible. Enjoyed it greatly.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marvin

    Collection of four ~50-page collections of flash/short-short fiction by Amy L. Clark, Elizabeth Ellen, Kathy Fish, and Claudia Smith.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Antonia

    A very good collection — and how nice to get 4 chaps all in one volume. Brief, lively, enjoyable short-shorts. Definitely fun to read. And plenty of variety, across as well as within the 4 chapbooks. I've always loved short-shorts, but they're hard to do well. These are really excellent overall. Sometimes I felt that a story seemed incomplete or somewhat pointless despite the wit. In some of these, I missed the sense of closure you get from a shot-short by, say, Pamela Painter. I liked Kathy Fis A very good collection — and how nice to get 4 chaps all in one volume. Brief, lively, enjoyable short-shorts. Definitely fun to read. And plenty of variety, across as well as within the 4 chapbooks. I've always loved short-shorts, but they're hard to do well. These are really excellent overall. Sometimes I felt that a story seemed incomplete or somewhat pointless despite the wit. In some of these, I missed the sense of closure you get from a shot-short by, say, Pamela Painter. I liked Kathy Fish's collection, Laughter, Applause. Laughter, Music, Applause, very much. I especially liked the opening story, "The Next Stanley Kubrick," about a young video-camera-wielding narrator who is documenting her brother Ray's life. Ray's the football hero, apple of Dad's eye, who according to Dad has the world by the ass. But there are plenty of Ray tapes the parents haven't seen. The narrator wants to go to Hollywood to blow people's minds. I liked Clark's stories, too. Ellen's not so much, though I can't put my finger on why. They just didn't grab me — though here, in its entirety, is one of Ellen's that I really did like: ----------------------------------------------------------------------- The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword It required an act of great self discipline: not sawing my mother in half. It would be such an easy trick. A magician's sleight of hand. Drawing a bubble over her head and filling in the words. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- But I think Claudia Smith's collection, The Sky is a Well, was my fave. And indeed, this was the one selected, by Ron Carlson, as the winner of Rose Metal Press's first short short fiction contest in 2006. Her story, "Colts," blew me away. It ends like this: "My father was a cop. Her father was a lawyer. Our mothers both wore dark glasses, hiding their marks behind scars and migraines. We compared their bruises as if they were badges. We tied our dolls to the trees by their necks. We hanged the cowardly women." In retrospect (but I'm not going back to check), it seems to me that there are a lot of child narrators — something I'm not keen on in general. It's interesting to speculate on how these stories might sound if related by the adult (years later, as it were). I suppose the child's perspective adds immediacy and . . . I don't know, do they seem to convey a more unvarnished truth? A more unfiltered view of life? Perhaps, through a child's eyes and words, the writer is more able to tell it exactly like it is. Anyone who likes flash fiction should definitely read this.

  25. 5 out of 5

    C

    Read as 4.5 or 4.75 stars. A fantastic collection of short-shorts. (Which I am fond of, anyway) These three authors, while each having their own voice, blend together with a sort of -yes, restlessness - but in a sort of hushed melancholy way. I wish I had time to type more tonight, but I have several reviews to add. If you're a fan of micro fiction, give this collection a read. You won't be disappointed. Read as 4.5 or 4.75 stars. A fantastic collection of short-shorts. (Which I am fond of, anyway) These three authors, while each having their own voice, blend together with a sort of -yes, restlessness - but in a sort of hushed melancholy way. I wish I had time to type more tonight, but I have several reviews to add. If you're a fan of micro fiction, give this collection a read. You won't be disappointed.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    Claudia Smith's "The Sky is a Well" is the gem of this collection. I was a bit disappointed by the other chapbooks, though Kathy Fish does have moments of brilliance in "Laughter, Applause, Laughter, Music, Applause." Claudia Smith's "The Sky is a Well" is the gem of this collection. I was a bit disappointed by the other chapbooks, though Kathy Fish does have moments of brilliance in "Laughter, Applause, Laughter, Music, Applause."

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brian Foley

    This book was a good idea.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amy Gilchrist Thorne

    What can I say? I'm a sucker for good short-short stories. What can I say? I'm a sucker for good short-short stories.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    Amazing book. Kudos to all involved.

  30. 5 out of 5

    P.H.

    Claudia Smith and Amy L. Clark. Yes.

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