Kelly reading from the book at Lit Youngstown on August 30th, 2020.
If you thought the suburbs were boring, think again. Kelly Fordon’s I Have the Answer artfully mixes the fabulist with the workaday and illuminates relationships and characters with crisp, elegant prose and dark wit. The stories in Fordon’s latest collection are disquieting, humorous, and thought-provoking. They might catch you off guard, but are always infused with deep humanity and tenderness.
In these thirteen short stories, Fordon presents people dealing with the grayness of reality and longing for transcendence. Characters within these stories are often as surprised by their own behavior as that of their neighbors. In “Jungle Life,” the narrator attempts to clarify and document the stories of his father, a war veteran, before he descends into dementia. In “Where’s the Baby?” a woman reflects on her difficult childhood as she grudgingly cares for her more successful, yet exasperating sister. In “In the Dog House,” a woman visits an estate sale and sifts through the layers of lifetimes past while grappling with her long-standing jealousy of a mysterious neighbor. In “The Shorebirds and The Shaman,” a woman who has just lost her husband winds up at a kooky weekend retreat role-playing her way out of debilitating grief.
Award-winning author Desiree Cooper has called the stories in I Have the Answer “pitch-perfect . . . Fordon takes us to the precipice where trauma and triumph are equal possibilities. The people in these stories are so hauntingly real that long after I put the book down, I found myself wondering what had become of them.” Readers of contemporary fiction and short stories will enjoy mulling over the complicated feelings this collection evokes.
Advanced Praise for I Have the Answer
“Kelly Fordon’s I Have The Answer is a remarkable, penetrating and moving collection that explores what it means to be a good neighbor, a good parent, a good spouse and a good human being. From New Guinea during the Second World War to the suburban Michigan of today, Fordon maps the contours of the heart with an exquisite delicacy and a generosity of spirit entirely unequaled in American fiction. Rare is the author who can bring so much genuine compassion to her characters, despite all of their foibles and flaws, and rarer still the writer who can entertain us immensely as we follow her beloved creations. I Have The Answer exudes emotional truths, as certain as they are surprising, on every page.”
—Jacob M. Appel award-winning author of Millard Salter’s Last Day
“A shrewd and probing volume of literary tales. In these 13 stories, Fordon explores the often surreal nature of suburban life, usually through the perplexing and aggravating relationships formed between family members, friends and neighbors. The author’s prose is exact and knife-sharp, slicing to the center of her characters’ afflictions. The results are stories that lay bare the messiness that lurks behind the facades people present to society.” –2020 Kirkus Indie Top Summer Read.
“What a great collection! Again and again, Kelly Fordon’s characters charm and disarm us as they face death, divorce, departure of a maddening child, a diagnosis of dementia, and even molestation. As the world crumbles, they must ask themselves the question, ‘how do I live now?’ In these big-hearted stories, the answer is to be found in life itself, in living as an act of courage, and living as an art form. Like Lorrie Moore, Fordon proves that comedy is a worthy opponent of tragedy. Times are hard—they’re always hard—so read this book and you’ll feel better!”
—Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters
In Fordon’s gripping collection of stories about characters on the edge, we witness what happens when life deals a blow—divorce, addiction, empty nests, dementia, death—and they are forced to face the biggest unknown: themselves. In each pitch-perfect story, Fordon takes us to the precipice where trauma and triumph are equal possibilities. The people in these stories are so hauntingly real that long after I put down this book, I found myself wondering what became of them.”
—Desiree Cooper, author of Know the Mother (Wayne State University Press, 2016)
“Fordon’s stories hold up a mirror to our shared humanity, breathing three-dimensional life into her characters through a rotating prism of joy, tragedy, triumph, and heartbreak. This collection joins the ranks of such illustrious contemporary short story writers as Alice Munro, Jeffrey Eugenides, James Salter, and Aimee Bender.” –R.J. Fox, author of Love & Vodka, Awaiting Identification, & Tales From the Dork Side.
“In a narrative voice that is stunning and pristine, Kelly Fordon’s I Have the Answer presents characters who suffer in a self-made darkness of secrets, desires, and longing. While going through the motions of their suburban lives, they are at the mercy of the unraveling of normalcy. In each story, we are reminded that underneath the façade of having it all, nothing is simple or easy.”
—Melissa Grunow, author of I Don’t Belong Here
“I followed Kelly Fordon’s characters with love and tears through their ‘lifetime of drift’ until they connected emotional dots and arrived at an answer that allowed them to summon their internal super hero with all the clarity and energy at their command. These are stories of hope.”
—Lolita Hernandez, author of Making Callaloo in Detroit (Wayne State University Press, 2014)
“Kelly Fordon is a smart and generous writer, and her stories are full of perception, wit, intelligence and a startling visionary air. This is a collection that engages from first page to last.”
—Fred Leebron, author of Six Figures and Welcome to Christiania
“Fordon’s talent is powerful, unmissable. Her stories are absurd and also deeply true. She can shift from amusing to heartbreaking in a moment and leave you with goose bumps. Whether it is a war story relayed by an Alzheimer’s sufferer, or a reluctant therapy group member trying to expose a phony—these stories might make you cry but they’ll make you laugh first.”
—Emily Schultz, author of Little Threats
“Like all bold, transcendent fiction, the stories in I Have the Answer end up answering intimate conundrums about love, identity and relationships with ever more complicated questions. Fordon’s characters don’t seek to understand their lives so much as find a way to tell a different story about both the past and the future. Vanished husbands are re-imagined as pale images of the men they once were. Teens on the cusp of adulthood grapple with phantom limbs and the true meaning of exorcism and faith. To their skeptics’ surprise, “crazy” characters who claim to have all the answers actually prove they do. Throughout these stories, Fordon’s sly humor about middle-class perks—Costco, grocery delivery services, trendy psychotherapy, binge shopping—bind together the women who both rue and rely upon these props. Fordon’s deft, lyrical writing and gentle yet pointed comedy create endearing, realistic characters looking for the very answers the reader hopes to find.”
—Laura Hulthen Thomas, author of States of Motion (Wayne State University Press, 2017)
ISBN: 9780814347522, $18.99 Paperback (eBook also available) Made in Michigan Writers Series
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For more information on the book or to speak to the author, please contact Gregory Henry, Gregory Henry Literary (917) 282-0095 tel email@example.com
Kristina Stonehill, Wayne State University Press (313) 577-6127 tel firstname.lastname@example.org