Listen: 29 Short Conversations (2009)

Listen: 29 Short Conversations

Brown Paper Press, 2009

$14.00 paperback

Cover art by Carlos Gonzalez

Order a signed copy
“A virtuoso performance! Realism, monster stories, sex stories, love stories, ghost stories, myths and legends, comedy both understated and openly absurdist: in a literary atmosphere that fetishizes blandness and sameness, such a broad range of ambition and accomplishment is a brave and astonishing act. Pure fun from beginning to end.”
Pinckney Benedict, author of Dogs of God

 “It is interesting to note that deep in the etymological guts of the word ‘conversation’ we find the early definition, “the act of living with.” Corey Mesler’s page-turning collection offers readers conversation: here is a deeply engaging mode which delights the intelligence while also registering on the nervous system of its readers – a combination that will wake you right up. These pieces also return us to the essence of the gift of conversation itself: that we might learn to live with it – the mysteries and gaps that haunt the human experience. Reading this book, I am reminded of how much I want to live with it – how the conversation is all. This is an exciting new work from a writer who knows how to position himself in order to truly listen and mercifully invites his readers to do the same.”
Selah Saterstrom author of The Meat and Spirit Plan


“M:  It’s funny, very funny with bits of lithe nakedness, yet ineffable at times–dazzles of washed silver. Birdsong from a cage of ribs. It’s voices from the pivot, the still point of a seesaw between up-light and down-dark, which is all he knows.

Y:  Funny, that. Grief-worthy…”
Marly Youmans, author of The Wolf Pit and Catherwood

“Finished LISTEN this morning. Great work. Lots of fun — and angst. Loved all the Chin-Chin stories (especially the crucifixion and pearly gates snafu) and the blind date story — Barbara and Chuck Said We’d Like Each Other — funny, funny and tight. Real verisimilitude. Spring Ahead, Fall Behind was powerful; AdMan absurd and on point (having had brushes with that industry) and, perhaps my favorite, Plot to Kidnap Stonehenge. Laughed out loud.”
Neil White, author of In the Sanctuary of Outcasts

 “Corey is a poet, and his gift is apparent in this diverse collection of lyrical prose, erotic email exchanges, gritty conversations between x-lovers, and interactions that dip into forbidden realms between therapist and hypnotized client. He includes exchanges between the ghosts of musicians past and unorthodox interviews with living artists. Corey captures words fresh from the lips of everyday people and stirs them together with his own dark roux for a spicy hot literary gumbo.”
Susan Cushman, Pen and Palette

 “What continues to astonish me is the way you’ve found such original containers for your own very distinctive voice.”
Steve Stern, author of The Angel of Forgetfulness

“I didn’t really miss the usual authorial voice, because Mesler’s stories ARE stories, not just experiments. They are engaging and surprising. They range from interviews to “Subject: Email Eros,” an epistolary story about rekindling a lost love, told as a series of emails, as well as more experimental pieces reminiscent of Samuel Beckett’s prose…. The short story is a much ignored though thoroughly American form. It’s nice to see Mesler lending his talents to help re-invigorate it.”
C. L. Bledsoe, in Ghoti

“Ultimately, the reward of this kind of pared-down storytelling is some freedom to play with how each character uses the spoken word and how others receive those words. Mesler’s best work happens when he pushes the limit of playful speech. One character intones, “Faith is a curled finger, a puddle of hope.’ This voice couldn’t come from every character, but the lack of attribution brings some universality to it: the voice could float up from a sewer grate, for all we know, and therefore the reader is free to create her own image.”

Amelia Gray, in American Book Review 

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