New Short Fiction: The Man Who Shot Out My Eye is Dead – Chanelle Benz

For folks who love short stories this collection is a thrill ride. Benz’s debut collection is a tour de force of voice, setting, tone and genre. From the Western that is the title piece to a searing story of espionage, to an overheated Gothic tale (complete with academic footnotes that seems to me an homage to Nabokov’s Pale Fire)–what holds this arresting collection together is its exploration of how people confront and react to a moment of violence.

Fans include the inimitable story writer George Saunders who says of Benz, “In every one of these dazzlingly varied stories, Chanelle Benz steps out on to a new stylistic tightrope. Among the many gifts she uses to arrive at the other end, the moved and transformed reader in tow, are: narrative velocity, true prose strangeness, an exuberant sense of play, and tremendous heart. A riveting new voice in American fiction.”

“Evoking eras from the medieval to the post-apocalyptic and built around various forms including slave narratives, found documents, and gothic tales complete with sly scholarly notes, Benz’s debut collection of 10 stories is impressive….Vividly refashioning a Western outlaw tale with a female narrator and taut, inventive language, its chain of violation and retribution is emotionally compelling and historically vivid….At its best, the collection explores violence, identity, and otherness in sharply observed, fiercely eloquent prose. Benz’s bold experiments with voice and genre sometimes fail to make an authentic emotional connection, but she nevertheless displays her daring and gift for language.”
— Publishers Weekly

 Dazzles readers with its many different writing styles…. As Benz’s adventurers and dreamers attempt to remake their worlds in small and big ways, there are no easy happy endings here. Yet these lyrical stories capture the urgency of lives lived with daring and concern for others.”
Booklist

 “Chanelle Benz has been whispered as the next big thing in writing since 2012 and with this debut story collection she has proven herself worthy of the hype. With seemingly effortless flair, Benz brings us stories in a variety of literary styles from Victorian England to Western to 16th century religious zeal. Twining this collection together is the visceral reactions of humanity on the cusp of violence. We all long for safety, to be held steadfast against the dangers that come just from living, but Benz takes us just outside of our bubble against reality and by doing so reminds us just what it means to be human.”
Atticus Solomon, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI

The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead (9780062490759) by Chanelle Benz. $24.99 hardcover. 1/17/17 on sale.

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