Things to Make and Break

May-Lan Tan (Author)


These eleven short fictions evoke the microcosmic worlds every human relationship contains. A woman is captivated by the stories her boyfriend tells about his exes. A faltering artist goes on a date with a married couple. Twin brothers work out their rivalry via the girl next door. In every one of these tales, we meet indelibly real and unforgettable people, a cast of rebels and dreamers trying to transform themselves, forge new destinies, or simply make the moment last.

Product Details

Price: $16.95  $15.59
Publisher: Coffee House Press
Published Date: October 02, 2018
Pages: 224
Dimensions: 5.5 X 0.7 X 8.2 inches | 0.6 pounds
ISBN: 9781566895279
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

May-Lan Tan studied fine art at Goldsmiths and works as a ghostwriter. Her stories have appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, the Atlas Review, the Reader, and Areté. She lives in Berlin.


ELLE, "The 28 Best Books to Read in Fall 2018"
Library Journal, "Top Short Fiction For Fall"

"A brilliant and daring collection." --The New York Times

"With this provocative debut, Tan proves herself a sharp chronicler of contemporary romance." --Publishers Weekly

"There's plenty of darkness and a sprinkling of magic, and these strange, flinty, cigarette-stained narratives speed by, offering lots of surface tension and compelling deeper passions." --The Guardian

"Visceral and demanding; an unsettling collection that knocks you off balance." --Kirkus

"This book turns your senses so sharply it's hard not to feel thankful for it--how is it possible to have missed these moments before?" --Los Angeles Review of Books

"A story collection designed to unsettle in the most incisive, breathtaking way, May-Lan Tan's Things to Make and Break is a razor-sharp example of the strange behaviors of human beings." --Nylon

"Entertaining reading from a writer worth watching." --Library Journal

"Exhilarating." --Literary Hub

"Tan is a cinematic writer in the same way some directors are literary--think David Lynch at his most Guignol." --Times Literary Supplement

"The thirteen stories found in these two books are a fantastic introduction to a writer in the process of teaching us new ways of reading." --Vol. 1 Brooklyn

"The desires sparking in Things to Make and Break spark again and again--as individual as heartbeats, as intertangled as cigarette smoke around fingers." --Arkansas International

"Things to Make and Break is omnisexual, and it's mind-blowingly good." --PANK

"Things to Make and Break is at once about everyone and no one in particular." --The Harvard Crimson

"Tan leaves readers feeling liberated from conventional storytelling." --Bust

"One of the most disarming works of fiction you're likely to encounter anytime soon." --The Star Tribune

"These stories feel like they were written with a lit cigarette on the night wind. Tan has an imagination like a haunted carousel and each story here is like a ghost that wants only to talk to you. This is one of those debuts to remember, a name that bookmarks itself in your mind after the first story, or should--attention, as we say, must be paid. May-Lan Tan is here." --Alexander Chee