Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Woods_thingstodo-f_feature

The eight stories in Things to Do When You're Goth in the Country paint a vivid image of people living on the fringes in America, people who don't do what you might expect them to. Not stories of triumph over adversity, but something completely other. 

Described in language that is brilliantly sardonic, Woods's characters return repeatedly to places where they don't belong—often the places where they were born. In "Zombie," a coming-of-age story like no other, two young girls find friendship with a mysterious woman in the local cemetery. "Take the Way Home That Leads Back to Sullivan Street" describes a lesbian couple trying to repair their relationship by dropping acid at a Mensa party. In "A New Mohawk," a man in romantic pursuit of a female political activist becomes inadvertently much more familiar with the Palestine/Israel conflict than anyone would have thought possible. And in the title story, Woods brings us into the mind of a queer goth teenager who faces ostracism from her small-town evangelical church.

In the background are the endless American wars and occupations and too many early deaths of friends and family. This is fiction that is fresh and of the moment, even as it is timeless.

Woods_thingstodo-f_feature

Buying options

“Set at the irresistible junction of toxic reality and the truly strange, the electric unexplainable, Chavisa Woods stirs up stories of drugs and dykes, mutant mohawks, the Gaza Strip and green glowing orbs. Here, the outsider becomes truly alien. Murakami meets the meth heads. Woods delivers a nation of cigarettes in language both lyric and thrilling. Reader, you have never before seen anything like this.”

“Chavisa Woods's Things to Do When You're Goth in the Country is part Flannery O'Connor, part Kelly Link: darkly funny and brilliantly human, urgently fantastical and implacably realistic. This is one of the best short story collections I've read in years, and it should be required reading for anyone who's trying to understand America in 2017.”

“Woods is a gifted storyteller, and each piece follows its own unique twists and unpredictable turns. She has an eye for haunting details that give each narrative the texture of a fully-realized world. . . . Told with and wit and gravitas, Chavisa Woods’s Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country provides humane snapshots of outsider communities often overlooked in contemporary fiction.”

“In the tradition of Shirley Jackson, William Faulkner, and Flannery O’Connor, Woods’s third full-length work, Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country, explores the haunted terrain of the American psyche . . . Woods embraces the complex humanity of her characters even as she explores the tragedy of enculturation, identifying forces that divide us. Think of her as a literary exorcist, calling out certain entities that possess rural America: isolation, working-class poverty, drugs, incarceration, military dogma, and evangelical religion.”

“"The stories of Woods’ collection are somewhat fantastical and take place pre-president Trump, against the background of the Gulf War, the Clinton and Obama administrations, yet offer a more sympathetic, interesting, and downright wacky look at small town U.S.A., reminding us that weird America has been here all along... These stories exist in those in-between places, those sticky spaces that are neither completely real nor imagined. They are never judgmental, nor do they let those who inflict pain off the hook. They offer both a realistic view of the negative contradictions, isolation, and overwhelming boredom that is part of modern rural life as well as a creative way out of it... Through the contradictions and ambiguity of these stories, we catch a few real glimpses of what it must feel like, for some, to live in the country; and what a queer country it is.”

“This fiery collection of fiction does justice to coming up in the time of Osama Bin Laden’s capture. Woods's latest startles and sings. The eight stories vary in tone and in clip, but not will soon be forgotten. A transgender artist in Brooklyn wakes up one morning to find that a living diorama of the Gaza Strip has appeared on his head. Two twelve-year-old girls take care of a sweet, playful meth addict who has been living in a local mausoleum. A young woman and her schizophrenic girlfriend drop acid at a MENSA party thrown by the schizophrenic woman's parents. Woods’ writing is deep and dynamic. Her characters are complex and never sink into the ease of generalizations. She spares no experience in her representation of modern America; it is a rare work of literary fiction that fully showcases the rich and diverse American populace. The stories establish instant, distinct voices, much like Roxane Gay’s recent Difficult Women (2016), and fans of Miranda July's fiction will relish the wily creativity of Woods’ plots. This book is tight, intelligent, and important, and sure to secure Woods a seat on the pantheon of critical 21st-century voices.”

blog — June 05

50% Off Our Dark Fiction for Sunny Days Reading List

The Seven Stories fiction list began with Nelson Algren stories, with titles like "The Face on the Barroom Floor" and "The Lightless Room." These are not exactly beach reads, nor are the books you'll find below. What you will find are novels rooted in this world, presenting the dignity of people struggling to make sense of it and in one way or another to change it.

So, this is another kind of summer fiction list. We hope you'll find much that will challenge, inspire, and engage, in times of darkness and of light.

All titles 50% off for one week only, through June 14, 5:00PM EST. Check out the full collection here.

Parable of the Sower is the Butlerian odyssey of one woman who is twice as feeling in a world that has become doubly dehumanized. The time is 2025. The place is California, where small walled communities must protect themselves from hordes of desperate scavengers and roaming bands of people addicted to a drug that activates an orgasmic desire to burn, rape, and murder. When one small community is overrun, Lauren Olamina, an 18-year-old black woman with the hereditary trait of "hyperempathy"—which causes her to feel others’ pain as her own—sets off on foot along the dangerous coastal highways, moving north into the unknown.

Parable of the Talents is the continuation of the travails of Lauren Olamina, the heroine of 1994's Nebula-Prize finalist, bestselling Parable of the Sower. It is told in the voice of Lauren Olamina's daughter—from whom she has been separated for most of the girl's life—with sections in the form of Lauren's journal. Against a background of a war-torn continent, and with a far-right religious crusader in the office of the U.S. presidency, this is a book about a society whose very fabric has been torn asunder, and where the basic physical and emotional needs of people seem almost impossible to meet.

The Undiscovered Chekhov gives us, in rich abundance, a new Chekhov. Peter Constantine's historic new collection presents 38 new stories and with them a fresh interpretation of the Russian master. In contrast to the brooding representative of a dying century we have seen over and over, here is Chekhov's work from the 1880s, when Chekhov was in his twenties and his writing was sharp, witty and innovative.

The Years is a personal narrative from Annie Ernaux of the period 1941 to 2006 told through the lens of memory, impressions past and present—even projections into the future—photos, books, songs, radio, television and decades of advertising, headlines, contrasted with intimate conflicts and writing notes from six decades of diaries. Local dialect, words of the times, slogans, brands and names for the ever-proliferating objects, are given voice here.

"The Years is an earnest, fearless book, a Remembrance of Things Past for our age of media domination and consumerism, for our period of absolute commodity fetishism."—Edmund White, New York Times Book Review

"The Years is a revolution, not only in the art of autobiography but in art itself. Annie Ernaux's book blends memories, dreams, facts and meditations into a unique evocation of the times in which we lived, and live."—John Banville

Jalla is a boy growing up in Salé, Morocco—the hometown author Abdellah Taïa fled, but which he continues to reimagine in his fiction and films—with no one to care for him but his mother, a prostitute and witch doctor. Fiercely protective of her, but also deeply vulnerable, he is propelled through a world peopled with an unforgettable cast of characters—soldiers, wanderers—and set aglow by the spirit of Marilyn Monroe, until unforseeable events at last set him on the path he has least forseen for himself: the one that leads to jihad.

"Infidels combines a lightness of touch, a deep lyricism, an openness to beauty and mystery, with an undercurrent of daring, fierce, erotic energy and images of shocking brutality and challenging complexity."—Colm Tóibín

Elfriede Jelinek's first novel to be published in English after she won the Nobel Prize, Greed is the story of Kurt Janisch, an ambitious but frustrated country policeman, and the lonely women he seduces. It is a thriller set amid the mountains and small towns of southern Austria, where the investigation of a dead girl's body in a lake leads to the discovery of more than a single crime. In her signature style, Jelinek chronicles the exploitative nature of relations between men and women, and the cruelties of everyday life.

Winner of the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

The hotly anticipated first novel by lauded playwright and The Wire TV writer Kia Corthron, The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter sweeps American history from 1941 to the twenty-first century through the lives of four men—two white brothers from rural Alabama, and two black brothers from small-town Maryland—whose journey culminates in an explosive and devastating encounter between the two families.

"A stunning achievment by any measure."—Angela Davis

A masterpiece of mood and setting, character and remembrance, The Cuban Club is Barry Gifford's ultimate coming-of-age story told as sixty-seven linked tales, a creation myth of the Fall as seen through the eyes of an innocent child on the cusp of becoming an innocent man.

Read a (very) short story from The Cuban Club here.

“For a long time I believed that writing meant dying . . .” begins So Vast the Prison, the double-threaded story of one woman’s existence set against the unforgiving history of her country.

So Vast the Prison is the most ambitious work to date by Assia Djebar, the woman many consider to have been North Africa’s most important literary voice. The tragedies of Algerian history are its subject—particularly the condition of women in Islam. Djebar’s fiction, like that of Nadine Gordimer and Edna O’Brien, wrestles with issues of oppression and the subtle ways that language and history enforce it.

Output-f_feature

Brooklyn-based writer Chavisa Woods is the author of The Albino Album (Seven Stories Press, 2013) and Love Does Not Make Me Gentle or Kind (Fly by Night Press, 2009). Woods was the recipient of the 2014 Cobalt Prize for fiction and was a finalist in 2009 and 2014 for the Lambda Literary Award for fiction. Woods has appeared as a featured author at such notable venues as the Whitney Museum of American Art, City Lights Bookstore, Town Hall Seattle, the Brecht Forum, the Cervantes Institute, and St. Mark's Poetry Project.