Notes toward the Story and Other Stories (2011)

Notes Toward the Story and Other Stories

OUT OF PRINT, limited quantities left

Paperback, Aqueous Books, $14

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“Here is a collection of mischief and delight. Corey Mesler’s short fictions afford a peek into a parallel universe in which we find ourselves reflected in new and surprising disguises.  At times his writing evokes the subversive surrealism of Flann O’Brien and at others the lyrical dreamscapes of Richard Brautigan, but Mesler is always his own man, with a sharp ear for dialogue and a steady eye on the wobbling orbit of modern life.  Notes Toward the Story may easily become one of your favourite bedside companions. “ —Miles Gibson, author of The Sandman, and Hotel Plenti

“Corey Mesler’s stories give shimmer and depth to the most outlandish and most commonplace of experiences. By turns piercingly funny and sneakily heartrending, Notes Toward the Story and Other Stories touches the real corners of life while also showing, with great tenderness, the way we seek to elevate ourselves, our condition, the everydayness of our everyday lives, to a level of epic grandeur. And Mesler shows us how the effort itself—the sincerity of it, the yearning behind it—becomes the grandest thing of all.”—Megan Abbott, author of Bury Me Deep and The End of Everything

“These otherworldly stories left me haunted not just by their strange happenings but by the longing that suffuses them. A woman who has her shadow dyed, a child who can’t resist the allure of the dark space behind a door—Corey Mesler’s characters glimpse a mysterious and terrible beauty in the world, and reading these stories I glimpsed it, too.”  —Leah Stewart, author of The Myth of You and Me and Husband and Wife

“A remarkably unique collection that both invokes and takes you away from everyday life–part Raymond Carver, part Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Spare, rich, real, surprising, and absolutely wonderful.”    —Jennifer Paddock, author of A Secret Word, and Point Clear.

“What’s so abundantly apparent these days is what an original Mesler has become.  His voice is so recognizably his own… and it’s such a bittersweet, always inventive, always beguiling voice that I suspect he should have gathered a cult following by now.  I still wish some major press would take him up and publish a big-ass retrospective volume, or maybe nice uniform editions of the Mesler oeuvre.  He’s amassed such a distinctive body of work by now, and I can’t believe it’s not reaching a real audience.  Mesler is the real thing, man.”–Steve Stern, author of the Jewish Book Award winning The Wedding Jester

“Very, very readable. James Thurber meets Jorge Borges. The familiar if not slightly dull muddle class life falls in. collapses into its mysterious doppel, a hidden other half, and one sees how much was paid to maintain a surface to life, as well as the amusing and frightening gains from entering its real, other possibilities. I hear both Hawthorne and John Cheever in the transition from the matter-of-fact to the wonderfully menacing.  “Notes Toward the Story” reads as hilariously and self-satirically pugnacious. Of course, one thinks of Coover, Barthelme and others, but this one is all Mesler, and again, holds the two worlds of Memphis (the domestic and the awful) so terrifically close together certain sparks fly up between.”    —Gordon Osing, author of Slaughtering the Buddha


“Mesler is a writer who likes to mix it up, indulging in wordplay, toying with form and voice, and lassoing high- and low-culture references into his narratives. His 2002 novel, Talk, is written entirely in dialogue. The Ballad of the Two Tom Mores, a bawdy tale set in small-town Arkansas, includes among its cast of characters a set of triplets named Venny, Viddy, and Vichy. The nineteen pieces of short fiction in the just-released Notes Toward the Story & Other Stories display Mesler’s characteristic playfulness. The title story is a sorry domestic tale conveyed via seemingly random writer’s notes. “Delitescent Selves” takes the form of a book review, and “Monster” features an outcast creature named Genet. Mesler makes these writerly antics work to tell deeply affecting stories.” —Maria Browning, Chapter 16 (Tennessee Humanities)

“Mesler’s lays out stories here that are alternately funny, shocking, despairing, and sometimes simply surprising….There’s sex in many of these tales, but it’s not graphic or played for gratuitous shock. Actually, Mesler writes about the pathos of desire more than mere sex, about the sadness and humor of it…Eros seems to torture, defeat and usually elude his characters much as in real life…Suffice it to say that Notes Toward the Story and Other Stories and Before the Great Troubling are evidence that Corey Mesler counts among the best short-story writers and poets currently working in Memphis.” —Ross Johnson, in The Memphis Commercial Appeal (10/9/11)

Notes Toward the Story & Other Stories is a fine assortment of short works, very much recommended.”    —Midwest Book Review

“Appreciation for the female form, in many manifestations. Appreciation for language. A cunning wit and endearing style. Boundless creativity. The presence of a well-read author who makes an original contribution. That about sums it up. Don’t ask me why Mesler, who has both novels and poetry collections published in addition to story collections, has not gained larger distribution in terms of a big agent and a major book deal with wide distribution, but yet again I find myself grateful for the risks independent and academic publishers are willing to take.  It really doesn’t matter where you open this book; all of it is smart, funny, appealing, well-written — the kind of book you keep hoping to buy and sometimes feel disappointed to realize you are not holding. This is why reading people, thinking people, should buy this book — because that sort of disappointment is terrible and recurrent in a lot of collections out there, but not part of Mesler’s gathered offerings.”  —Heather Fowler, in The Lit Pub

“As its ambiguous title suggests, this collection positions itself as notes toward the story (the author’s masterpiece) and notes toward other stories. Through a carnival of genres and layers of meta-fiction, Mesler explores, with hilarity and accuracy, the desperation and exhilaration inherent in creative process…Demonstrating that he has full control of this experiment, Mesler counterbalances intentional meta-fictional faux pas with a wealth of undisguised brilliance….Notes Toward the Story and Other Stories has numerous other strengths, but perhaps this collection’s most noteworthy quality is that beneath its experimental and boisterous surface it argues, in every story, for the timeless value of well-crafted language.”       —Phillip Howerton, in Arkansas Review (Vol. 43, Number 1)

Cover photograph by Jeane Umbreit.

Brand new (5/1/13) mass market version from Kuboa Editions (A steal at $6.50)
Cover art by Carlos Gonzales

A review:

Order the new mass market HERE.

Notes (final)

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