Strange Monsters Reviewed in Midwest Book Review

The second review for Strange Monsters is in from Midwest Book Review!

Strange Monsters: A Music & Words Collaboration is a unique hybrid of audiobook anthology and music CD. Each track consists of a brief fiction story (or poem) set to contemporary jazz music and performed by actors. The tales meld elements of surreal fantasy and fearful suspense: Rumpelstiltskin’s wife is questioned by police over the disappearance of a local boy; a cursed ballerina who yearns only to dance must deal with an obsessive fan and the hatefully jealous director of her ballet company; a group of do-nothing friends in love with the same woman discover disturbing skeletons of extinct animals on a treacherous camping trip; and more. Haunting, ethereal, and unforgettable, Strange Monsters is music-storytelling fusion experience like no other. Highly recommended. The tracks are “The Stink of Horses”, “Mrs. Stiltskin”, “Skeletons”, “No Eyes”, “Selected Poems”, and “Where You Came From”.

For more information on the album, along with links for purchase at Amazon, CDBaby, and iTunes, click here.

“The Centaur’s Daughter”

“The Centaur’s Daughter” (published in A Capella Zoo, 2015) was reviewed at New Pages:

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam’s “The Centaur’s Daughter” achieves a more nuanced approach to a queer text. First and foremost a coming of age narrative, Ruby’s queerness is one part of her character. Ruby is half centaur and queer, and Stufflebeam uses language reminiscent of a mixed-race family to discuss Ruby’s parentage. When Ruby narrates, “I’m a combination of my parents, and so they will never understand me,” she speaks from a place of real cultural confusion. Her teenage life is not like the “Centaursploitation movies” Stufflebeam references, and while Ruby loves her centaur father, she is also frightened of him and embarrassed by him. Stufflebeam’s piece makes queerness familiar because Ruby is a queer character, but she is so much more in ways that are both relatable and strange.

The story is available in print and free online.

Short Story Recommendations at io9

I’ve recommended three of my favorite summer 2015 short stories over at io9, with additional recommendations by K. Tempest Bradford, Charles Payseur, and Terry Weyna. Head on over there to check out which stories I chose. (One of them will make you look at pumpkins in a whole new, unsettling light.)

Happy holidays, everyone!

The holidays are a busy time of year for a lot of people (myself included — after a nine hour car ride from the in-law’s house tonight, I am wiped), so I’ll keep today’s post to a brief list. I hope to post more recommendations once I finish more of my to-read list.

First, however, I would like to first give everyone a rundown of what they can expect in the near future here at Short Story Review. Our next post, due to appear January 6th, 2014, will be a review of The Book of Apex: Volume 4. Then we will have a three or four-post series featuring Campbell eligible writers, last year’s nominees, and other past finalists; if you have a suggestion about which short stories to read from people associated with the Campbell, or who to highlight for this year’s eligible writers, please do drop me an email at bonnie.stufflebeam[at]

Today, in the spirit of awards season, I’d like to briefly call attention to some stories I would love to see on the Nebula ballot. These are not nearly all my favorite stories published this year, as there were many awesome stories appearing this year.

I’d also like to take this time to point out that my award-eligible stories are all listed on my website here, and in particular point out that my story “The Wanderers,” which appeared in Clarkesworld in February 2013 (available to read here), is eligible for nomination.

Bonnie’s First Round of Award-Worthy Stories


Collection Review: Matt Bell’s Where They Were Found

Collection Review: Matt Bell’s Where They Were Found

In other news, I recently attended a reading sponsored by the local university of writer Matt Bell. I was thrilled to discover that Matt Bell is apparently a fairy tale enthusiast as well as a writer of innovative, often fantastical short stories. I purchased his collection How They Were Found and am happy to say that I’ve found another favorite writer to add to the list.

In How They Were Found, Bell experiments with structure as well as with subject matter. Many of his main characters stretch that tired wisdom of the likeable main character; in the creepy “Dredge,” the emotionally disturbed Punter finds a dead woman in a lake while he is fishing and takes her home with him, where he freezes her. When the authorities begin searching for her, he decides to do his own search, to avenge her himself. What the story becomes is an atypical horror tale filled with flashes of Punter’s own psychologically damaging past, and a downward spiral story in which the reader feels both repulsed and moved by Punter’s loneliness.

My favorite stories in the collection, however, stray even farther from a traditional narrative. In the surreal “Hold On to Your Vacuum,” the narrator is stuck in a game of sorts where every player is required to constantly keep one hand on their vacuum while running from Teacher, whose goal is to catch the players as they relive mostly terrible, but also some pleasant, memories and drill holes in their heads, making them begin again. The theme of memory and trying to change the past is a resonant one.

In “Wolf Parts” Bell reconstructs, again and again and again, the Red Riding Hood tale. While most retellings of this fairy tale dig out the sexual root of the story but settle on one message therein, Bell’s version explores so many aspects of sexuality in the tale that his becomes not a linear story but a story about the story.

In “An Index of How Our Family Was Killed,” the story of a family’s murderous curse is told in “a list of evidence, compiled in alphabetical order.” A haunting story that breaks down into poetry. In “The Cartographer’s Girl,” the story of the cartographer’s missing girlfriend, and his search to find her, is told with the help of his map key. Both are fine stories, made more memorable by the innovative ways in which they are told.

There is not a single story in this highly lyrical, highly original collection that I didn’t like, and few that I can say I didn’t love.