Chelsea Bieker (Author)
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DescriptionFinalist for the California Book Award From the acclaimed author of Godshot and "a pitch-perfect ventriloquist of extraordinary talent and ferocity" (T Kira Madden) comes a defining book of Californian stories where everyone is seeking or sabotaging love United by the stark and sprawling landscapes of California's Central Valley, the characters of Heartbroke boil with reckless desire. A woman steals a baby from a shelter in an attempt to recoup her own lost motherhood. A phone-sex operator sees divine opportunity when a lavender-eyed cowboy walks into her life. A mother and a son selling dream catchers along a highway that leads to a toxic beach manifest two young documentary filmmakers into their realm. And two teenage girls play a dangerous online game with destiny. Heartbroke brims over with each character's attempt to salvage grace where they can find it. Told in bright, snapping prose that reveals a world of loss and love underneath, Chelsea Bieker brilliantly illuminates a golden yet gothic world of longing and abandonment under an unrelenting California sun.
April 05, 2022
5.6 X 8.4 X 1.1 inches | 0.95 pounds
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About the Author
Chelsea Bieker is the author of the novel Godshot, which was a finalist for both the Oregon and California Book Awards, long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, named an NPR Best Book of the Year, and a Barnes & Noble Fiction Pick. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review, Granta, The Cut, McSweeney's, Literary Hub, Electric Literature, and other publications. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award and a MacDowell Fellowship. Originally from California's Central Valley, she now lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two children.
The Millions, A Most Anticipated Book of the Year Set against the backdrop of sunny California, in these stories, you will encounter: teenagers flirting with danger, an entrepreneurial mother-son duo, a phone sex operator, a very sad kidnapper. Chelsea Bieker is back, baby! --Katie Yee, Lit Hub, One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Year "[An] exemplary first collection . . . A powerful collection; highly recommended." --Library Journal (starred review) "Wrenching . . . Darkly comic . . . Throughout, Bieker's deeply human narrators bend the reader's ear with memorable stories." --Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Bieker flexes a gift for the short form in her searing first collection. Each story draws readers in, moving them to love Bieker's crusty characters before ending just in time to satisfy . . . The volume is turned way up on the corruption of these characters' relationships and the severity of their missteps; such big, loud behavior creates ample space to observe their pulsing humanity. Readers will get lost in this riot of a collection, like a sun-bleached fever dream." --Booklist (starred review) There is a Coen brothers-esque dark zaniness to their plots, which are full of hapless criminals and bumbling lovers, all filtered through lovely prose . . . In nearly all the stories, the mother-child relationship is the beating heart, a heart that is shot through with the poison of poverty, substance abuse, and disenfranchisement. But that Bieker finds such humor and poetry in that heart is a testament to both her skill and her tender affection for her wayward characters. Larger than life and darker than hell. --Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Heartbroke made me feel as though I were watching a great dancer who has gone really deep into the music, all vitality and grace and a sense of dazzling risk. Chelsea Bieker is an absolutely crackling talent. --Lauren Groff, author of Matrix Chelsea Bieker shies from nothing in these raucous, ecstatic stories, rendering the best and worst of us all in tales as devastating as they are side splittingly funny. Suspenseful as hell, thrumming with heat and humanity, Bieker brings her signature acoustical grace and pyrotechnic prose to this unforgettable landscape. Every page flickers with desire. For fans of Larry McMurtry's wild west and Mary Gaitskill's prickled darkness, Heartbroke is a place all its own, the white-hot in between. --T Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls Heartbroke is astonishing--every story is still lodged in my throat. Bieker's lacerated world is filled with violent men, desperate women, abandoned children, all fighting for survival, dignity, and redemption. Bieker is refreshingly unsentimental but relentlessly compassionate, and has a virtuosic ability to inhabit her characters' suffering without flinching. Heartbroke should come with a warning: Absolutely devastating. --Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter and Stray "Heartbroke is as haunting as it is hopeful, a striking miracle of a collection about bighearted outcasts, wayward dreamers, and hardheaded strugglers. Unbearably beautiful and brimming with longing, these stories display Bieker's full-throated wit, endless compassion, and stunning emotional intelligence." --Kimberly King Parsons, author of Black Light Wild and weird and rangy, Heartbroke deals in the aftermath of broken hearts, what happens when people pick up the shattered pieces of their lives and keep living. Chelsea Bieker is a true conduit of her characters' many voices and the many settings they find themselves in, taking us from a seaside shack on a toxic beach, to a crowded women's shelter, to a sunbaked raisin farm in California's central valley, and everywhere in between. And yet, the talent behind these stories is singular, confident and generational, a true force to be heralded. I binge read Heartbroke with one hand on my neck, the other on my heart, choked up and charmed and always awestruck at the souls Bieker channels, the worlds she conveys, the resilience she suggests belongs to us all, for the taking. --Allie Rowbottom, author of Jell-O Girls