This week’s other featured book, “Aunt Edwina’s Fabulous Wishes,” by Lynne Chrisensen, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the Monthly Replay. Or, just click the author’s name on our Author’s page.
THE BOOK: Posing Nude for the Saints
PUBLISHED IN: 2019
THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Genovise
THE EDITOR: J. Bruce Fuller
THE PUBLISHER: TEXAS REVIEW PRESS
SUMMARY: In the opening story of Posing Nude for the Saints, the daughter of a prostitute falls in love with a Mennonite and finds herself torn between two worlds. “Vincent” spotlights a young husband who comes to terms with his wife’s terminal cancer, confronting his own helplessness and terror. The title story follows a divorcee who responds to a Craigslist ad for boudoir photography and finds more than what she bargained for. In “Food for the Gods,” a widow shops for a last supper for herself and her unborn child; in “Passion Play,” a cynical lawyer has a chance to save a life. The central character in “Almost a Wolf” does quiet battle with a rural pastor who’s made a critical mistake. In “Citizens,” two runaway children escape a violent home and live happily in an abandoned camper until the real world intervenes. In “Irises,” a woman in crisis learns her mother’s deepest secret, and in “Burn,” a family of five vacations in a wild landscape that foreshadows their collapse.
THE BACK STORY: I wrote these pieces over the course of several years, as is the case with all my short story collections. I do not consider myself a regional writer, but I need to know and love a setting before I can use it in my stories; it was around this time (2015-2017) that I’d been in east Tennessee long enough to feel truly connected to its landscape. Moreover, my personal life at the time was a roller coaster of changes, both good and bad, and the richness of that experience fueled my creative output.
WHY THIS TITLE: It’s the title of one of the individual pieces in the collection, but it’s also reflective of the larger ideas at work in the collection as a whole. These are stories about people whose souls are all exposed but who still have a chance at redemption. That soul-nakedness, even at its most distressing, is a catalyst for growth and positive change.
WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: To engage with one’s own humanity via the experiences of others, even fictional others. I think it’s what we all unconsciously seek out when reading books, watching movies, listening to music– that, and those moments of transcendent experience, when we edge up to something almost mythical in its power to shake us up and remind us of what matters. I am no Tolkien, but I want to present those moments to readers as best I can, using whatever limited ability I have.
“Like an intense consolation from Boethius or an exquisitely turned argument by Saint Paul, these wondrously real stories each transformed me—they verge on conversion experiences. But they bear such a practical scale, that shocking recognition that an epiphany heralds not an exultant end so much as a beginning, a new, arduous, yet hopeful calling. The humanity, the yearning, the raw spirituality of these characters shines indelible. I will never forget being ravished and at last won over by this miraculous collection.”—Steve Yates, author of The Legend of the Albino Farm: A Novel, Some Kinds of Love: Stories, and Sandy and Wayne: A Novella, among others.
“A writer without chops couldn’t get away with time travel that nets the narrator a fetal point of view. Elizabeth Genovise, whose story “Irises” opens this year’s prize collection, dares to take that stance in writing of a woman who “is a few hours away from leaving her marriage and a few days away from ending my life,” planning to terminate a pregnancy in favor of life with a lover. In scarcely a dozen pages, Genovise compresses the entirety of the now-grown woman’s relationship with her mother, and it’s a marvel to behold.” From the Kirkus Review of the O. Henry Prize Anthology 2016
“The quality of her prose is unflaggingly high, while the style is cut-glass clear. The sentences that stand out as unusually fine do so because they marry formal grace with trenchant content . . . both as a whole and line-by-line, “Irises” is stunningly accomplished.” — Lionel Shriver
AUTHOR PROFILE: I grew up in the Midwest, then lived in Louisiana before settling in east Tennessee where I work as a college instructor and writing coach. I’ve published three collections of short stories via small presses (the earlier ones were called “A Different Harbor” and “Where There Are Two or More”), and won an O. Henry Prize in 2016 for the story “Irises,” which appears in Posing Nude for the Saints. I have a shrine next to my writing desk– a shelf stacked with Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Tolkien, Lewis, Steinbeck, and T.S. Eliot. Those authors terrify me and make me feel absurdly small, which is why I keep coming back to them.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: My favorite piece in the collection is the second story, “Vincent.” It’s very quiet, but for some reason seems to touch people on a deep level. Writing it, I felt like some other force was in control of my hands on the keyboard, which usually yields good results!
SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Provide link). https://www.amazon.com/Posing-Nude-Saints-Elizabeth-Genovise/dp/1680031805/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3KDBPKSXO6YZ9&keywords=posing+nude+for+the+saints&qid=1654871476&sprefix=posing+nude+for+the+saints%2Caps%2C249&sr=8-1
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, Texas Review Press website: https://www.tamupress.com/book/9781680031805/posing-nude-for-the-saints/
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org