Everyone Was There


THE BOOK: Everyone Was There


THE AUTHOR: Anthony Varallo.

THE EDITOR: Dana Curtis.

THE PUBLISHER: Elixir Press.

SUMMARY: Everyone Was There is a short story collection that features stories of one to three pages in length. The stories deal with everything from parent and child relationships, marriage, growing up, and more, all with the belief that the past is alive in the present, and that there is something beautiful about ordinary experience that escapes us. Some of the stories are lighthearted, some serious, and some are just plain strange (there’s a story about a can opener, another about a talking baby). There’s one story I don’t actually understand myself, although I remember understanding it when I wrote it. But I’m not saying which one.

Anthony VaralloTHE BACK STORY: It took me 20 years to write Everyone Was There. The first story—my first publication, actually—appeared back in 1997, and the most recent stories were published in 2017. Between those years, I published three other story collections, and drafted two novels, all while writing the short-short stories that would become, through a slow and sporadic accumulation, Everyone Was There. Sometimes, during the years when I was writing those other books, I would play a “game” where I would go to a café and try to write an entire story by the time I finished drinking one coffee. I’m not a fast writer, and could never really win my game, but sometimes I’d write half a story, or three quarters of a story, and come back the next day and finish it, then start another, and so on. Many of the stories in Everyone Was There grew out of that game, an exercise, really, in discipline. Those stories are special to me now.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I titled one of the stories “Everyone Was There” and liked it well enough to lend that name to the collection. The story is about a party where, literally but absurdly, everyone you know is in attendance. That seemed to fit the feel of the book: a collection of disparate stories all hanging out together, in harmony and contradiction, but together nonetheless. The cover image is meant to suggest a party in full swing—or at least fully illuminated.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I hope my book would appeal to anyone who enjoys short stories or fiction in general. Everyone Was There might also be of particular interest to fans, admirers, practitioners and teachers of short-short stories.


“Anthony Varallo’s Everyone Was There is one of the most beautiful experiments I’ve ever read. The gods of absurdity—Barthelme and Millhauser—hover over these pages, yet Varallo’s voice—its gravity, its intelligence, its deep, brilliant, kind sense of humor, its crazy sympathy—flows so generously and originally through these pages. For me, this is a book to study, and to cherish.” —Rebecca Lee, author of Bobcat and Other Stories

“In his collection Everyone Was There, Anthony Varallo turns his wonderfully inventive eye toward a world we both recognize and that shimmers at the edge of our consciousness. These terrific and original short stories explore the strangeness and tenderness that co-exist in everyday life, and they are full of mystery, humor and compassion.” —Karen E. Bender, author of Refund: Stories

“In so many of these stories, Anthony Varallo does something both rare and wonderful: he manages to be both funny and profound. Here you’ll meet the life of the party who’s secretly miserable and reconnect with the popular kids you knew in high school who now find themselves stalled out in melancholy middle age, their children and the world seemingly uninterested in them. Varallo is a master at characterization—his misfits and lonely divorced fathers, his vivid adolescents and tongue-in-cheek John Updike cameo—there is so much here that I admired and enjoyed. A terrific new collection.” —Christine Sneed, author of The Virginity of Famous Men: Stories.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I am the author of four short story collections: This Day in History, winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award; Out Loud, winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize; Think of Me and I’ll Know (Northwestern University Press/TriQuarterly Books); and Everyone Was There, winner of the Elixir Press 2016 Fiction Award. Currently I am an associate professor of English at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC, where I teach in our MFA Program in Creative Writing and serve as Fiction Editor of Crazyhorse. I live in James Island, SC, with my wife, the writer Malinda McCollum, and our two children.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Everyone Was There won the Elixir Press 2016 Fiction Award. I am thankful to Dana Curtis, editor, for helping bring the book into the world. SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.amazon.com/Anthony-Varallo/e/B001JSBJIO

LOCAL OUTLETS: Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston SC

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Small Press Distribution.

PRICE: $19.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: varalloa@cofc.edu

Published by


Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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