Joy: And 52 Other Very Short Stories


Product Details

Counterpoint LLC
Publish Date
5.2 X 8.0 X 0.9 inches | 0.75 pounds

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About the Author

Erin McGraw, born and raised in Southern California, lived and taught for many years in the Midwest before retiring to rural Tennessee with her husband, poet Andrew Hudgins, and her dogs. She has written six previous books--three novels and three collections of stories--along with essays and occasional journalism. Find out more at


Praise for Joy

A The Millions Most Anticipated Book of the Month
A Big Other Most Anticipated Small Press Book of the Year

Praise for Joy

A The Millions Most Anticipated Book of the Month
A Big Other Most Anticipated Small Press Book of the Year

"Prolific novelist and short story writer Erin McGraw proves her mastery of short-form craft in this collection of 53 very short stories, each no more than a few pages. They provide a diverse array of slice-of-life vignettes about characters with vastly different lives, who are strung together by the universal messiness of their humanity." --Sarah Neilson, The Brooklyn Rail

"The perfect title to pick up this year . . . The stories in this collection are both profound and mundane . . . Leav[ing] you wondering how McGraw packs so much punch in such limited space." --Wendy J. Fox, Self

"In these quick, delightful reads, the Sewanee, Tennessee-based writer Erin McGraw imagines the lives of such characters as mothers, siblings, the drummer of a fading band, and the personal assistant to Patsy Cline. At turns poignant and hilarious, you might just read it all in one sitting." --CJ Lotz, Garden & Gun, A Book to Read This Month

"There's something immensely satisfying about a very short story (particularly one that bills itself as a 'very short story' rather than 'flash fiction'), and I'm looking forward to a whole collection of them . . . Based on the other stories I've read of McGraw's, I have high hopes for both humor and devastation." --Emily Temple, Literary Hub, One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Year

"Erin McGraw pulls no punches in her new collection of microstories . . . By turns angry, disturbing, darkly funny, poignant, or tragic, each narrator claims the spotlight momentarily to tell a powerful story . . . The amount of emotional weight she is able to pack into such brief encounters leaves no doubt that Joy is a virtuoso performance." --Tina Chambers, Chapter 16

"Across fifty-three very short stories, McGraw deftly navigates the abbreviated form. Even those readers skeptical of flash fiction will find themselves enthralled by McGraw's work on the page: elegant, complex development of characters whose short narratives carry real emotional heft . . . McGraw's primary gifts, however, are depicting average people drawn into extraordinary circumstances and highlighting the extraordinary nature of otherwise average circumstances." --Annie Adams, The Sewanee Review

"Full of compulsively readable little stories that each feel developed beyond their few pages. Some are ironic or clever; others are poignant and wrenching; all of them are driven by McGraw's strong, confident sense of voice for her characters . . . The beauty of this book is in how McGraw makes us love them for all their human flaws and fragile hopes." --Chauna Craig, New York Journal of Books

"In McGraw's latest short story collection, a mother mourns the tragic loss of her child, a college student mocks the absurdity of a team-building exercise, and a man reckons with the truth about himself after taking a young boy's life. Each of the Sewanee-based author's 53 stories is only a few pages long but provides a searing look inside the story's narrator, striking an often darkly funny tone." --Kate Parrish, Nashville Lifestyles

"McGraw's fourth collection proves she's a master of the form . . . It is astonishing what she is able to conjure up in the span of a few pages . . . McGraw is wise and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, with a seventh sense for the perfect turn of phrase . . . This quintessential collection of stories serves as an homage to the form while showcasing McGraw's stunning talent and deep empathy for the idiosyncrasies, small joys, and despairs of human nature." --Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review)

"How can stories this brief be so satisfying? . . . [McGraw] deals with the profound, the dire, the mundane, and the ridiculous, paying particular attention to relationships between parents and children, siblings, spouses, criminals and their victims. While some stories are meant purely to amuse, many are intense and beautiful . . . Fifty-three gems that demonstrate all the things a short story can do. Wow." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"In this poignant and sweeping collection of short stories, McGraw paints a beautiful and multifaceted portrait of domestic life in modern America . . . The stories find humanity in every situation, no matter how unsympathetic. Readers will find themselves understanding adulterers and murderers, not for their destructive choices but for the greater sum of their lives--an impressive feat, considering the brevity of the format." --Booklist

"[A] collection of very short stories for reading on the train, in line at the supermarket, while walking down the street, at the dentist, or anywhere else you can jam a few paragraphs in. And just think: you'll be able to add 'read a short story' (or ten) to your list of completed tasks for the day. Fun!" --Emily Temple, Literary Hub