Mannequin and Wife
"Mannequin and Wife is magical in every sense of the word. These stories are eerie, funny, sharp, strange, devastating, joyous, brilliant―larger than life. I loved each one so much I never wanted it to end, until the next one started. A bravura debut from a bold new talent." ― Clare Beams, author of The Illness Lesson
“Mannequin and Wife is a brilliant debut, constantly surprising and simply beautifully crafted.” – David Gutowski, Largehearted Boy
“Decidedly weird things happen in this distinctive first collection from four-time Pushcart nominee Fawkes . . . Both creepy and surreal, these stories can also be poignant, and if the occasional tale feels sketchy—we want more about the doughty girl who can bring her sawhorses alive, even if she must recombine them after they're chopped up by an abuser—this is a writer to watch. VERDICT: Good reading, especially for fans of the fantastical.” – Library Journal
“When reading [Jen] Fawkes, writers like Amy Hempel and Kelly Link come to mind, yet her style is completely her own. Haunted by war, memory and lost love, the ghosts of past lives figure heavily in Fawkes’s stories. Each one is touched with originality, leading us through door after door, where what we think to be true is no longer, and our sense of place becomes distorted.” – Patrick Dacey, Style Weekly
“This collection is richly imagined, featuring stories about circus performers and twins. Fawkes has structured this collection, lengthier than the average debut, with a mix of long and short stories, all of which show her range as a writer. An engaging book by an accomplished writer.” -- Wendy J. Fox, Buzzfeed
“There is a grounded understanding of human nature and the entanglements inherent in living in a mad society here — Fawkes writes with empathy and bemusement and a kind of technical ruthlessness that suggests acres of fresh graves of murdered darlings.” -- Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
“Throughout the book, Fawkes instills a dreamy and offbeat tone that feels extraordinary in its exploration of normalcy. Each story is unique and vastly different than the one that comes before it, and the entire collection flourishes off Fawkes’ ability to create character-driven plots—no matter how unconventional these characters may be. She brings humanity to even the most un-relatable characters, even in pieces spanning less than two pages.” – Hannah Robinson, Miracle Monocle
"Jen Fawkes's stories have the blaze of immediacy about them, like creatures from some other plane of reality who have broken temporarily and all at once into being, displaying the whole of their life in a single burst. How fortunate for us that Fawkes has her eyes open wide, trained in just the right direction to see the things that no one else is seeing." ― Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Brief History of the Dead
The imaginative tales in Mannequin and Wife trip seamlessly across borderlands, navigating comedy and tragedy, psychological and magical realism, the mundane and the marvelous. A criminal mastermind's protégé plots the destruction of Mount Rushmore from within an extinct volcano. A man buys a drive-in theater and transforms it into a carnival sideshow. An attorney puzzles over how to leave someone his deceased client's heart. Jen Fawkes's award-winning stories examine the vagaries of human relationships, teasing out the startling complications that arise from our entanglements with those we loathe, and those we love.
JEN FAWKES has published fiction in One Story, Crazyhorse, The Iowa Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Best Small Fictions 2020, and elsewhere. Her story collection Tales the Devil Told Me won the 2020 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction, and is forthcoming in October 2021. Jen is a four-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize, and her stories have garnered awards from The Pinch, Washington Square Review, Harpur Palate, Salamander, and others. She lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with her husband and several imaginary friends.
210 pages, 5 ½" x 8 ½"
Paperback $24.95, ebook available
LSU Press Paperback Original
Yellow Shoe Fiction | Michael Griffith, Series Editor
REVIEWS OF MANNEQUIN AND WIFE:
Style Weekly, Patrick Dacey
"The New, The Old, and The Obscure"
Buzzfeed, Wendy J. Fox
"15 Books From Smaller Presses You Won't Be Able to Put Down"
The Brooklyn Rail, John Domini
Miracle Monocle, Hannah Robinson
"Stories of Strangeness in Reality"
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Philip Martin
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR MANNEQUIN AND WIFE:
"The stories in Mannequin and Wife are lapel-grabbers, brimming with urgency and conviction. They are also deeply imagined, elegantly constructed, and emotionally rich. Jen Fawkes is a lively and most convincing storyteller, and her debut deserves attention." ―Chris Bachelder, author of The Throwback Special, a finalist for the National Book Award
"These stories are deep dives into dark waters, full of both treachery and beauty. Jen Fawkes has a boundless imagination, and these stories, full of ghosts, carnival performers, murderers, seekers, lovers, and even talking piñatas, surprise and enchant." ―Caitlin Horrocks, author of The Vexations
"Jen Fawkes' stories are complete, utterly satisfying circles. They're everything I look for in my reading: funny, deeply and authentically felt, odd without being disorienting. Fans of Aimee Bender, Kelly Link, and Donald Barthelme will find plenty to love here, but so will fans of Carver or Chekhov. This is what I mean when I say her stories are complete: they don't rely just on gags, or bizarre premises, or pathos. It would be enough, for a lesser writer, to show us the ridiculousness of her characters' lives, or just render the sadness we all walk around with, and leave it at that. Fawkes takes it a step further: once she's finished demonstrating the absurdity and tragedy of her characters, she then gives them the strength, insight, and courage to act, to be deliberate, to rise above or dive below as the case may indicate. Too often in contemporary American fiction, characters spend all their time thinking. Fawkes has the good sense to let hers act, to bracing effect." -- Ron Currie Jr., author of Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles