Susan Tepper interviews me about Glass Animals at UNCOV/rd. She touches on a couple of my “issues” and two of my favorite stories from the collection. Here’s an excerpt.
ST: Speaking of troubling behavior, let’s discuss your story Sacred in This Light. This story is lyrical prose with legs, one that creeps up on the reader. It’s a story of a profound misdeed. You wrote:
The ground is a battlefield of shadow and light. Do worms worship flame? Will ants build monuments to this night?
Despite everything going on this story, I didn’t hate your character. I should have, but you turned me! And I still don’t know how you did. Rather, Continue reading
And this week’s winner is…. Michelle Wallace.
‘Tis More Blessed continues today with over 40 authors participating! Every Friday in December I will be raffling off a book to one lucky winner. To enter, drop a comment below. I will select a winner at random.
Then, visit other authors to see what’s they have to offer.
Milo James Fowler James Garcia Jr. Yolanda Renee M.K. Theodoratus Stephanie Loree Jeff Beesler Jeff Chapman M Pepper Langlinais Sherry Ellis Martin Continue reading
Many of Steve’s characters are quite oblivious of what’s happening to them which is an enormous part of the appeal (and torture) of each story. We gain an (often uncomfortable) insight into the protagonist’s experiences but we are, of course, powerless to explain it to them, or save them from whatever destruction or change seems inevitable. Universally, Ramey’s characters are very real, even the most absurd and outlandish of them, no matter what age or gender – he picks out and unweaves exactly what makes each one human and flawed and beautiful. Every story makes you wonder how you’d seem if sketched as one of the characters – not always a wholly enjoyable idea but one that certainly keeps those tales secure in your head for days…
The stories I can’t forget have implanted themselves into my brain for completely different reasons: The Divide for its domestic profundity, Simply Salazar for its casual intimidation, Canis es Machina for Clarise (who really ought to be the star of a beautifully grim indie movie), The Mailwoman for its duplicitous gossip, Meringue for its… climax, Nora’s RV for its aching urgency, Funny Stuff for the ultimate tragic clown, and, finally, Leaving the Garden, a story that has stayed with me ever since I first read its initial incarnation at our writing group.
My bookshelf has a space in between Q and S reserved for more Ramey. Yours should too.
Read the full review.
In the preface, Steve Ramey mentions that several of the stories collected in Glass Animals started at Show Me Your Lits. This reminds me how lucky we are at SMYL to read raw, fresh fiction every single week from a slew of gifted writers, none moreso than Steve. (It also reminds me how much we owe to Errid Farland and the others who started the site, and to Errid again for being the one constant presence and guide for the first three-plus years of its existence.)
So, having read many of these stories when the ink was wet, reading this book is an insight into the revision process at work. Or maybe I should say (using a Conversations-with-God-like hyphenism), re-vision. It strikes me that more has gone on than a coat of varnish, a patch here or there. No once-over edit to fix grammar or untangle tense. While I may not be able to tell exactly how much has changed in any particular story, each one resonates deeper, clearer than I recall the original. It is as if the author has played each piece like a guitar maker, listened to the sound, then returned to the workbench with it, to shave and reshape the sound board until the tone produced matches the sound he hears in his head.
Read the full review.
In his collection Glass Animals, Stephen Ramey delivers a collection of short fiction that at once engages, bewilders, and elevates the form to a new space. Ramey gets under the skin of his characters to present the reader with a spectacular journey through the four quartets that make up the collection: Reflect, Refract, Reveal, Distort. Each story is the equivalent of looking at the world through a kaleidoscope and the shattered, glittering stories that make up this collection are exceptional. St. Peter’s Penis, has stayed with me since I first read it last year, and along with Sacred in this Light is one of the stand-out pieces of flash fiction I’ve had the pleasure to read. Ramey weaves his stories with assuredness and assiduity, and is a voice to be reckoned with.
“Gravity was another rule on another sign he could not read,” Malcolm, the protagonist in the title story from Steve Ramey’s wonderful collection thinks. In this gravity-defying display of mostly flash pieces, Ramey leaps and dances over the domestic and the surreal, the mundane and the magical. He seamlessly weaves a crazy-quilt of characters who – despite being a little lost and befuddled by the world – have moments of chandelier insight into their own human hearts. Reminiscent of Raymond Carver’s Little Things and Kim Chinquee’s Oh Baby, Glass Animals is a work of sparkling vision and compressed and surprising language – all put to work to reveal a world where everything’s at stake.
Lori Jakiela, author of Miss New York Has Everything and Spot the Terrorist
Stephen V. Ramey captivates and mesmerizes his readers, taking us by the hand into the hidden worlds of people not unknown to us. His instincts are visceral, perceived, radiating a power and compassion that guides us inside each of his characters. Ramey’s collection explores the human condition. Ramey is the real thing. Read him!
Meg Tuite, author of Domestic Apparition
Stephen V. Ramey’s Glass Animals offers an intimate look at a matador’s passion and pain, a bus driver’s brush with mortality, a jilted lover’s dilemma, a disfigured boy who “inhales” his salvation, and a young man hounded by glass animals in a pool. Ramey takes on the richness of his characters’ emotional and physical torment and delivers something morbidly fascinating and keen. A great first collection!
Kristine Ong Muslim, author of We Bury the Landscape and Grim Series.
I had a wonderful time reading from Glass Animals in Greensburg this week. A large, attentive audience heard me read “Sacred in This Light”, “Lactose Intolerant”, “Gold Standard”, “The Years of Feast and Famine”, “Coffee”and “Christmas in Nicaragua”. Afterward, some really great discussions with motivated students, lotsa books signed, and an interview by student journalists, who also video-recorded the event. They’d even read my first published story “It Takes a Town” in prep for the grilling. Thanks to Lori Continue reading
Thanks so much to the Youngstown State University Student Literary Arts Association for hosting my reading at the Greyland Gallery. We had a great time, and what an eclectic collection of art, music, fashion and retro. And that was just the audience… No, seriously, you owe it to yourself to visit this gallery. It’s great.
Another project well worth your support is Jenny Magazine, which Continue reading