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Freak Weather (Massachusetts Press)
From a nurse who sees a rattlesnake in the pediatric ICU to an animal control officer convinced she’s found her abducted daughter in the house of a dog hoarder, the thirteen stories in Freak Weather are as unpredictable as the atmospheric changes that give this collection its name. With dark and raucous humor, Mary Kuryla creates female characters who, at times, combine a violent urgency with lack of introspection as they struggle to get out from under the thumb of a perceived authority. The intricate language is inseparable from the narrator’s conviction; the characters lie with such bravado they’re soon tangled up in their own webs. This brand of romanticism in a female character is little tolerated, and Freak Weather’s mission—Kuryla’s artistic mission overall—is to scratch at the intolerable. Call it bad instructions for moralbehavior.
Mary Kuryla has been awarded the Pushcart Prize and the Glimmer Train Short Fiction Prize. Several of the stories in this collection have been adapted into award-winning films that premiered at the Sundance, London, Edinburgh, and Toronto International film festivals.
Praise for Freak Weather
“There is a feral quality to some of these stories, an attitude that is truly startling. The language is perfectly matched to the not-so- conflicted women living off venison, weed, and their husband’s paychecks. The territory here is sometimes disturbing; the treatment of these people who are in over their heads is always both tough and surprisingly moving. The ‘action’ resides as much in the brisk, fresh language as in what these people conjure in a crisis. Ultimately, the author delivers stories unlike anyone else’s.”—Amy Hempel, Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction judge and author of The Dog of the Marriage: Stories
“This is what they mean by muscular prose, but with lithe muscles, quick and bright, and dueling senses of swagger and grimness. A striking and satisfying debut.”—Aimee Bender, author of The Color Master: Stories
"What a memorable, witty, imaginative collection this is, beautifully modulated, extravagant yet precise. Each story is startling and expertly hewn, with a perfect balance of toughness and whimsy.”—Joanna Scott, author of De Potter’s Grand Tour
“A powerful collection of stories about women who are unapologetically themselves—often struggling, sometimes drunk, sometimes irresponsible, but in all cases painfully human and alive. Each of these pieces opens a window onto a life and then, before we have time to explain to ourselves how we’re not like that, abruptly slams it shut, leaving us exquisitely off balance.”—Brian Evenson, author of The Warren
“There is much beguiling strangeness in the pages of Freak Weather, but there are no strangers: you know all of these people. They're the slightly scary neighbors, the folks who talk a little too loudly in the convenience store, the children who act older than they should. You've wanted to know about their lives, and now they're telling you everything. Simultaneously appalling and gorgeous.”—Pinckney Benedict, author of Miracle Boy & Other Stories
Mary Kuryla’s collection Freak Weather: Stories was selected by Amy Hempel for the 2016 AWP Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction. She has been the recipient of The Pushcart Prize, as well as the Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Prize. Her stories have appeared in Epoch, Shenandoah, Denver Quarterly, Witness, Greensboro Review, Pleiades, The New Orleans Review, The Normal School and Alaska Quarterly Review, among others. She is the author, with Eugene Yelchin, of The Heart of the Snowman, Ghost Files: The Haunting Truth, and The Next Door Bear for Harper Children’s Books. Her award-winning shorts and feature films have premiered at Sundance and Toronto. She has written screen adaptations for United Artists and MGM. She teaches screenwriting and media studies at Loyola Marymount University and Emerson, Los Angeles.
Award-winning actress Brenda Wehle has appeared in film and TV (American Beauty, Woman Walks Ahead), and worked extensively in New York, most recently on Broadway in The Crucible. She is currently in Mary Jane at the New York Theatre Workshop. A member of the Guthrie Theater Acting Company, she appeared in over 35 productions.
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