TELL EVERYONE I SAID HI
Winner of the 2012 John Simmons Short Fiction Award
Forthcoming in October 2012 from the University of Iowa Press
The world of Chad Simpson's “Tell Everyone I Said Hi” is geographically small but far from provincial in its portrayal of emotionally complicated lives. With all the earnestness of a Wilco song, these eighteen stories roam the small-town playgrounds, blue-collar neighborhoods, and rural highways of Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky to find people who’ve lost someone or something they love and have not yet found ways to move forward. In “Peloma,” a steelworker grapples with his teenage daughter’s feeble suicide attempts while the aftermath of his wife’s death and the politics of factory life vie to hem him in. The narrator of “Fostering” struggles to determine the ramifications of his foster child’s past now that he and his wife are expecting their first biological child. In just two pages, “Let x” negotiates the yearnings and regrets of childhood through mathematical variables and the summertime interactions of two fifth-graders. Poignant, fresh, and convincing, these are stories of women who smell of hairspray and beer and landscapers who worry about their livers, of flooded basements and loud trucks, of bad exes and horrible jobs, of people who remain loyal to sports teams that always lose. Displaced by circumstances both in and out of their control, the characters who populate “Tell Everyone I Said Hi” are lost in their own surroundings, thwarted by misguided aspirations and long-buried disappointments, but fully open to the possibility that they will again find their way.
Published in a limited edition in 2010 by Origami Zoo Press
Now available for Kindle
The characters in Chad Simpson’s Phantoms are lost and struggling but constantly in motion — a brother upright after being run over by his own car, a retired father-in-law falling slowly off the grid, a young woman on a Midwestern bar stoop plotting a trip to Tunisia, a lonely sales rep whose mouth sags even when she smiles. In nine meticulously crafted short pieces, Simpson creates scenes covering vast emotional terrain where these characters emerge, imperfect and unfinished. In gestures large and small, kind and cruel, they push and pull at the fates laid out for them, constantly chasing the other versions of themselves they know will never quite become real.
PRAISE FOR PHANTOMS
“I want to say impossible things about Chad Simpson’s sentences: how, via discipline, they arrive at grace. How they serve as clean lineaments of experience. How they hum with the mystery they conduct. I want to say simple things about Chad Simpson’s fictions: read them. Right this second. They’re so well made and told.”
—Scott Garson, author of American Gymnopédies
“Chad Simpson’s stories claim borders wider than their page counts might suggest, doubled as they are by the ghosts that flicker between their sentences. It is these ghosts that Simpson asks us to reckon with, and it is his characters’ attempts to chain or banish these specters–with memory, with miracle, with mathematics–that ultimately ties us to their lives, so that they might haunt us far beyond these intricately-inked pages.”
—Matt Bell, author of How They Were Found