Shit Cassandra Saw: Stories

“Kirby has mastered the art of short fiction…A stunning collection from a writer whose talent and creativity seem boundless.”
–NPR

“Kirby takes joy in subverting the reader’s expectations at every turn. Her characters might be naïve, even reckless, but they aren’t about to be victims: They’re strong, and brave, and nearly always capable of rescuing themselves.”
New York Times Book Review

Margaret Atwood meets Buffy in these funny, warm, and furious stories of women at their breaking points, from Hellenic times to today.

Cassandra may have seen the future, but it doesn’t mean she’s resigned to telling the Trojans everything she knows. In this ebullient collection, virgins escape from being sacrificed, witches refuse to be burned, whores aren’t ashamed, and every woman gets a chance to be a radioactive cockroach warrior who snaps back at catcallers. Gwen E. Kirby experiments with found structures–a Yelp review, a WikiHow article–which her fierce, irreverent narrators push against, showing how creativity within an enclosed space undermines and deconstructs the constraints themselves. When these women tell the stories of their triumphs as well as their pain, they emerge as funny, angry, loud, horny, lonely, strong protagonists who refuse to be secondary characters a moment longer. From The Best and Only Whore of Cym Hyfryd, 1886 to the Midwestern Girl Is Tired of Appearing in Your Short Stories, Kirby is playing and laughing with the women who have come before her and they are telling her , we have always been this way. You just had to know where to look.

Gwen E. Kirby is a native San Diegan and graduate of Carleton College. She has an MFA from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD from the University of Cincinnati. Her stories appear in One Story, TinHouse, Guernica, Mississippi Review, Ninth Letter, SmokeLong Quarterly, and elsewhere. Guest editor Aimee Bender selected her story “Shit Cassandra Saw . . .” for Best Small Fictions 2018 and it also appears in the 2018 Wigleaf Top 50. Her story “Midwestern Girl Is Tired of Appearing in Your Short Stories” won the 2017 DISQUIET Literary Prize for Fiction and she was the 2018-2019 George Bennett Fellow at Phillips Exeter Academy. Currently, she is the associate director of programs and finance for the Sewanee Writers’ Conference at the University of the South, where she also teaches creative writing.

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