THE BOOK: Souvenirs and Other Stories
PUBLISHED IN: 2016
THE AUTHOR: Matt Tompkins
THE EDITOR: James Gapinski
THE PUBLISHER: Conium Press
SUMMARY: In this collection of six short, surreal stories, six different narrators cope with circumstances beyond their control: a father evaporates, a family of mountain lions prowls the basement of a newly built home, a laser eye surgery causes optical hallucinations, an apartment spontaneously fills with mysterious objects, and more.
THE BACK STORY: Each of these stories was written separately, as a stand-alone piece, and only later did I realize that they all fit together perfectly — each with a first-person narrator in a surreal setting, just trying to live and make sense of their lives as best they can. This collection, submitted via an open call, was selected as one of two chapbooks published in 2016 by Conium Press.
WHY THIS TITLE: It is concise and communicative of what the book contains: six small objects, each a curio from an adventure into an imagined world.
WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: I think anyone who enjoys surrealism or magic realism with heart and humor (in the style of Aimee Bender, Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, George Saunders, Amber Sparks) would enjoy this book. It combines my personal favorite things about literature: the possibility that anything could happen, and the ability to step briefly into the subjective emotional reality of another person.
“Matt Tompkins creates a collection reminiscent of a quirky, yet lovable mixture of the likes of Harvey Pekar and Aimee Bender . . . a strange, heartbreaking, and often darkly comical book.” — Beth Gilstrap, author of I Am Barbarella.
“In Souvenirs and Other Stories, Matt Tompkins creates a compelling universe that normalizes the bizarre . . . Souvenirs is thoroughly entertaining, a smart and funny collection from a wildly imaginative writer.” — Jen Grow, author of My Life as a Mermaid.
“Wit, imagination, and convincing illogic are the calling cards of this entertaining and disturbing collection. Souvenirs is an impressive collection, a pleasure to read from cover to cover.” — Christopher Kennedy, author of Ennui Prophet.
“No one else today is plumbing the depths of the human spirit and its limits in quite the same way as Tompkins.” — Sheldon Lee Compton, author of Brown Bottle.
“With language that feels guileless and innocent, never overbearing, Matt Tompkins builds stories from delicate loops of life and metaphor, making the surreal become real.” — Lena Bertone, author of Letters to the Devil.
AUTHOR PROFILE: Matt Tompkins is the author of two fiction chapbooks: Souvenirs and Other Stories (Conium Press) and Studies in Hybrid Morphology (tNY Press), with a third forthcoming from Red Bird Chapbooks in 2018. Matt’s stories have appeared in the New Haven Review, Post Road, and online at the Carolina Quarterly and Puerto del Sol. He lives in Virginia with his wife (who kindly reads his first drafts), his daughter (who prefers picture books) and his cat (who is illiterate).
LOCAL OUTLETS: Powell’s Books in Portland, Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago, Skylight Books in Los Angeles
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Coniumreview.com; Amazon.com
PRICE: $12 paperback; $7 e-book
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: http://www.needsrevision.com