Praise for I AM BARBARELLA: Available from Twelve Winters Press
“A novel in stories that expertly juxtaposes despair with love and loneliness with comfort.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Beth Gilstrap has the voice of a storm. The characters in these stories, through the grit and the chew of their southern drawls, rumble along the rough edges of their days and the ways they can’t stop running from, or maybe toward, with the threat of a downpour. Here are women who prop their boots on the dash and dare every town, women who settle strangers down deep like a second glass of wine. Gilstrap’s debut collection is a deluge of longing, a hard reckoning with the long distances of missing we all travel.”–Jill Talbot, author of The Way We Weren’t: A Memoir
“These stories crackle. They call out in a natural cadence echoing of Johnny Cash cutting across old roads and creek beds. As brides wash away wedding-day makeup with a tinge of regret, girls run through fields behind houses. Men pretty some backbone into their women while daring to wonder what it means to be female in this place where trash can be turned into treasure and walking sticks sink in spongy ground. Impressive and necessary, these character-driven fictions are pitch perfect, imbibing the authenticity of the southern voice. Long after the last page, you can hear it calling. Even at a time when you can’t get home, not for a long stretch, it’s preserved and out of reach but echoing within you.” —Aimee Parkison, author of The Petals of Your Eyes, The Innocent Party, and Woman with Dark Horses
“Beth Gilstrap’s narratives uncovers the beauty and grace of her subjects without reducing them to caricature. This isn’t the mythological South overgrown by trope and haunted by its geography of blood–it is the Southern spirit which influences the best of stories of connection and circumstance. Beth’s prose contains that instinctual X-factor which made me fall in love with McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, James Dickey, or even early R.E.M. I Am Barbarella wears its Waffle House heart on its sleeve, and speaks to us with a knowing, hard-won resolve we would all be fortunate to locate within ourselves.” —Jim Warner, author of Too Bad It’s Poetry and Social Studies and Managing Editor at Quiddity
“Beth Gilstrap writes her heart out. By turns lyrical and fierce, the poignant stories in I AM BARBARELLA ache with all of the possibilities–and limitations–that family, place, and love have to offer.” —Chad Simpson, author of Tell Everyone I Said Hi
“Beth Gilstrap’s collection of composite stories is a subtle portrait, ultimately revealing the problems of family and parenting. I admire the idiosyncratic voice as well as the spare and elliptical form.” —John Paul Jaramillo, author of the award-winning collection The House of Order
“This is a leathery, beautiful, steel-toed collection. Each story is a labyrinth—tall, weathered, and covered in vines—containing at least one Minotaur in the form of an oddly heartbreaking description or a perfect Southern turn of phrase or a mother’s surprising-yet-inevitable gesture.
Ranging from damaged, unforgettable characters to sharp portraits of Southern landscapes to family intrigue and wicked flashes of humor, the delights here are spring-loaded, carefully placed, and patiently waiting.
Despite her attention to setting, the (often-interconnected) stories here are ultimately about people contemplating the hidden costs of their own “magnificent mistakes.” Just like us, they struggle to do right and come surprisingly close at times, and this collection has some remarkably powerful moments as it examines the beauty and heartbreak that stem from our unique frailties. This book is both an indictment and a celebration of “how similar we are to porcelain on the inside,” and it’s definitely a ride worth taking.”