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Stories

Mother Figures by Amy Barnes

Amy Barnes has a knack for what Jennifer Pieroni has called “smart surprise”. Each of these mother/daughter stories grabs the attention with its first sentence then continues to wrongfoot the reader willfully as it proceeds. The stories are focused, lean, yet packed with unexpected details – stigmata, plastic eyes, industrial bras, a watermelon called Trudy, vulture balloons. Barnes has a voice that is entirely her own. ―Michael Loveday author of Three Men on the Edge From the first sentence of each story in Mother Figures, Amy Barnes entraps us and stuns, taking us into a variety of worlds, strange and surreal—we embark on a journey involving distorted familial relationships, and through these contorted realities, there is a booming thread of truth, mirroring our need for love and friendship. Magically entertaining, Barnes is on the forefront of breaking barriers in the craft of flash fiction. ―Shome Dasgupta author of Mute Mother Figures both elevates and devastates. In twenty-three tiny stories, Amy Barnes explores the oft-searing complexities of motherhood and mother-daughter relationships through a funhouse lens of pop culture, religion and artifact. Each story is a tightly-woven portrait that exposes our most intimate relational fissures with surprising language and a playfulness that punches to the emotional core. ―Sara Hills author of The Evolution of Birds Reading Mother Figures feels like lifting a band-aid: sharp, ugly, and vulnerable, but tender too: and after, relief: you feel as though the new light and air will heal you. ―Meagan Lucas author of Songbirds and Stray Dogs, and editor, Reckon Review In ‘Mother Figures’ Amy Barnes explores the subtle complexities of female relationships. Each story, steeped in rich detail and nestled between the real and the surreal, will pull you in and keep hold of you long after you’ve finished reading it. An absolute delight. ―Laura Besley author of The Almost Mothers and 100neHundred


Ambrotypes by Amy Cipolla Barnes

We are all slightly askew,” says one of the characters in this delightful and moving collection of innovative stories that bend, at times, toward allegory. Here's a vintage world of cigarette vending machines, Jazzercise, Sears photography studios, McNally road maps, full-service filling stations, and Green Stamps dish sets, a world where a sister with sugar for shoes who desires an octopus lover, giraffes who give funeral eulogies, a student with a backpack wormhole that houses Einstein, and a woman who places a want ad to see if someone has found her name—all highlight our humanity, its losses and its longings, and in moments, the last times we don’t know are the last times. I loved these stories.” — Jill Talbot, author of The Way We Weren’t: A Memoir “Read this collection slowly. Each of these stories unfolds like a palimpsest of images you'll want to spend time unpacking. At the heart of Barnes' prose are the intricacies of human relationships made technicolor by magic realism and the author's expansive imagination.” — Christopher Allen, author of Other Household Toxins “No one aces the first sentence test quite like Amy Cipolla Barnes. Every story in her whimsical debut begins with a zing. With irresistible openers like: "There’s a beach ball in the apartment toilet," "I knew what I was doing when I swallowed the glass piano," "My great grandmother hung the moon," and "My third baby was born an alligator," how can we not keep reading? These may be AMBROTYPES, but Barnes writes in living, breathing color to bring us captivating, quirky family snapshots that engage faith, myth, fairy tale, and a little magic. For all the absurdist delight, there's no shortage of heartache or truth: "I prayed hard that my plastic Jesus would find my daddy either real pants or a job; It felt like too much to ask for both." Barnes is adept at rendering the familiar unfamiliar and the unfamiliar familiar in these sharply observed slices of life that never fail to snap, crackle, and pop.” — Sara Lippmann, author of Doll Palace “Nothing can really prepare you for the people you'll encounter in Amy Barnes's Ambrotypes: little girls with feet made of sugar; alligator babies; wives who grow feathers; fathers made of origami. These stories are surprising, wholly original, and go down easy -- the perfect reading for our current reality.” — Amy Shearn, award-winning author of Unseen City and The Mermaid of Brooklyn



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