rose metal press


The Kind of Girl by Kim Henderson

Henderson_200The Kind of Girl
by Kim Henderson
Rose Metal Press, August 2013
56 pages / $12  Buy from Rose Metal Press







Things I like about The Kind of Girl #1:

The cover: stylized dandelion in purple and black with a few slight tendrils blowing away. Which, cute as it is, is actually drawn from the book too, a metaphor for the narrator’s movement from “the summer of ugliness” (in the first sentence of the book, lauded in the introduction by Deb Olin Unferth) to the luck and leisure and happiness that came beyond:

I grew up and made my own way in the world—a dandelion among rosy girls who’d come of age in regular houses. Yellow was in that year, and I snagged the best boy.

The dandelion, pressed from a photopolymer plate onto Neenah Classic Linen 80# cover stock in Silverstone at the Museum of Printing in North Andover, Massachusetts. (So the copyright page tells me.) Then a slice of “Jellybean Green” endpaper. Then the book.

Things I like about The Kind of Girl #2:

The lovely thing about Kim Henderson’s chapbook is that it is eminently readable. You get her. It has content value a little like David Foster Wallace’s “Forever Overhead,” parts of Patrick Somerville’s Trouble, any number of coming-of-age type stories that get at the adolescent experience. But with two bonuses: it is more restrained, in both length and tone, and it comes from a female perspective.

My “other book” right now is Lily Hoang’s Changing, which has similar coming-of-age subject matter, but which also (Lily knows, and so do we all) takes a whole lot of effort to read. The Kind of Girl is a pleasant swing to the other side of the spectrum: still small press, still beautiful production value, but amenable, the kind of book that seems like it was made to hold the reader gently. One of the stories (“Muscle Memory”) first came out in Tin House, for goodness’ sake. Rose Metal Press put out a collection here with a similar appeal: spectacularly written, thematically complex, and/but formally comprehensible.

Things I like about The Kind of Girl #3:

Which, though, is not to say that The Kind of Girl is “conventional” or “traditional” in a negative sense. Part of what makes it friendly to the reader is that its stories are so short (by definition: the Rose Metal’s Short Short Chapbook Contest, which The Kind of Girl won, called for stories under 1,000 words). It’s not as if the short-short form is revolutionary by now, but it remains a way of representing the world that has been limited to a comparably small readership; if “no one reads short stories,” much of the crowd who does read short stories still looks at short-shorts askance.

That Kim Henderson chose to make these stories so brief is valuable and renovating, considering their classic subject matter and the relatively plain language in which they are composed. They give new light to the classic crises of body image, disillusionment with idolized teachers, and—this one feels more fresh to me—the slow transference of annoyed love from father to spouse. When even the most archetypal of these are compressed in Henderson’s shorts, they begin to feel more like suggestions, like the jagged fragments that compose our memory and do not “satisfy” the way a longer short story might implicitly claim to.

Part of Kim Henderson’s art is accentuating this feeling, providing a complete story while leaving the reader tense and expectant. Many of the stories’ last lines make me feel hamstrung: they end like We Are the Champions, between breaths, on a note that anticipates ending but does not provide it.

The last line in “The Carousel,” where the cycle of love and annoyance between lovers is established:

He curls against you, and you pet his hair and grind your teeth.

After her story of being called a “bad girl” all the time she grew up (“Bad Girl”):

But I wish I could go back and give little Marie some new adjectives.

Following news accounts of a naked woman getting thrown off a bridge (“The Bridge”):

My father switched the TV off and left for a four-wheeler ride.

I went to my room and colored.

This all leaves you feeling unsatisfied, but unsatisfied in a good way, as if the imperfections and loose ends do not in fact need to be reconciled. As if they can be told, and let be. And though it does not feel quite right, that wrongness is the refuse of life.


1 Comment
October 7th, 2013 / 11:00 am

Shampoo Horns by Aaron Teel (part one)

Rose Metal Press makes a wonderful chapbook. Shampoo Horns, for example. It feels like hair, if the hair was made of Pop-Tarts or red sun and waterfalls of beer. It was printed on a Vandercook letterpress, with care. It smells like dandelion broth. The entire book-making process is fascinating and you can see it here:

This book has 19 short stories, linked. This would be a good book to examine while considering the nuances/decisions/contemplations of a linked collection. You could ask the author, “What kind of things did you think about when ordering the collection?” You could get Winesburg, Ohio and stack it upright on the dirty kitchen floor and then take three paces and place Shampoo Horns on the disgusting floor (pasta sauce and dream stains, etc.) and then you could fill in the space between the two with other linked books, like stack them into bones or whatnot, and you would have yourself a self-education session. (If you aren’t going to autodidact, you are doomed.)

This book contains red plastic cups, you know the cups, so simple yet they connote so much (even their name–solo). I bet you’ve held a red, plastic cup. Cradled it. Sucked from. There are also “pink flamingos with missing heads” and “stray huskies” and a “overgrown toddler without a shirt” and a “trash bag flapping” and “bologna sandwiches” and “MTV” and “wood panel walls” and a mobile home full of angels and “Texas drawl” and “shit-filled Underoos” and a dildo in a swimming pool and “RV’s” and “a busted La-Z-Boy” and a “greasy ball cap” and a “plastic vodka bottle” and a lot of other THINGS. Agglomeration. Interesting method of delivering the world from a child/boy’s POV. Most don’t do it well. But Teel does, by creating a tornado-like effect of THINGS spinning by, the narrator watching the world blur. Puzzlement and understanding are the milieu of a boy, an aging boy. Your parents are no longer some minor gods. Pain enters life (this world can hurt). And, of course, sex—this strange, persistent force—is in the air. Possibly this is a trailer park Bildungsroman.


Author News & Random / 1 Comment
August 30th, 2012 / 10:05 am

Book + Beer: Betty Superman and Modelo Especial

I hope you’re not an amateur, the type to quaff dark beer in the summer, light in the winter. The sun all splattered as a flung ball of cheese, so time for Mexican. Today, Modelo Especial (of behemoth Grupo Modelo). You’ll need a heavy, cold glass. (If you can, a chalice [or goblet] would be best, preferably one with scoring [You can do this yourself with a glass cutter] on the inside bottom of the glass, to create a CO2 nucleation point.) You do drink your beer from glass? You do understand that aroma, clarity, head retention, bubble stream, the sheer synaptical rush, the anticipation, etc. is dependent on glass? Listen: Do you want a quality head? Yes, yes, you do—it traps the essential effervescent volatiles. What? You want to just release the volatiles like a bunch of damn kids running round the Walgreens parking lot? Ah, Jesus. You sick-ass. You know what, let’s move on.

[Jen Gotch]

Parents. Or, a parent, this woman (the men whirl around with all the gravitas of a vacuum cleaner). Betty Superman (Rose Metal winner) dominates, is the word I’m using. Who is she? Mingy fuss-budget. Rueful drag. Lying truth-yawper. Despotic depressive tarantella. Candy bar cad. Underdeveloped sloppy-knocker. God gossiper. Emphysemic tart. Mother. To this narrator. To this daughter trying to figure out something about her mother. To settle something. To grapple, to slam, to lift to a light, to see, to step upon, something. Tiff Holland (several glow poems here) has created a case study of characterization. A repulsion and an embrace. A homage and an exorcism. A bring up and a take down, of Betty Superman, not so easy—she dominates.

Do you even know how to pour a beer?


Author Spotlight & Random / 5 Comments
August 10th, 2011 / 1:45 pm


They Could No Longer Contain Themselves

They Could No Longer Contain Themselves:
A Collection of Five Flash Chapbooks
by Elizabeth J. Colen, John Jodzio,
Tim Jones-Yelvington, Sean Lovelace, and Mary Miller
Rose Metal Press, 2011
248 pages / $15.95 Buy from Rose Metal Press
Rating: 7.0





The problem with collections of flash fiction is their unevenness, or that the reader recognizes the unevenness more than in, say, a novel. Maybe this also applies to story collections, especially non-linked stories, though there are a few that come away feeling complete–to me, usually collections with fewer stories. I can’t think of a single flash collection that does not seem hill-and-valley. They Could No Longer Contain Themselves is no exception. I find it interesting to note, however, that the chapbooks that were linked helped me see past the valleys, as I was always aware of the range. Okay, enough of this terrible analogy. On to the individual chapbooks. READ MORE >

August 2nd, 2011 / 12:02 pm


Things I’ve Read Lately

I’ve read some  interesting books and magazines over the past couple weeks so I’m going to talk about them in one big post. Also, I’m giving several books away.

They Could No Longer Contain Themselves

I don’t care for the term flash fiction. I understand the etymology but I often think, “Why not call it a story?” There are so many terms now for different kinds of fiction. There is an obsession with naming, creating taxonomies so we can better understand the nature of a thing. Flash fiction. Very short stories. Sudden fiction. Microfiction. Nanofiction.  All these terms strive to categorize the nature of stories that fous on brevity and compression. Ask five different writers how to define flash fiction and you will likely hear five different definitions. I read an article in the most recent issue of The New Yorker about tiny houses, and the writer talks about the article’s main subject, this guy named Shafer who designs tiny houses and the writer says, “What makes Shafer’s houses different from others is the classical elements of form and proportion and the graceful compression of his design.” I kept thinking about that line as I thought about the stories in They Could No Longer Contain Themselves. They each contain the classical elements of good fiction and the compression in each story is also graceful like a tiny house that holds everything you need to feel at home.

In They Could No Longer Contain Themselves, the latest book from the reliably excellent Rose Metal Press, five writers offer five unique interpretations of flash fiction in chapbooks by Mary Miller, Elizabeth J. Colen, John Jodzio, Tim Jones-Yelvington, and Sean Lovelace (I reviewed his chapbook in 2009, here).


July 25th, 2011 / 5:36 pm

5 awareness that the essential values through which one…lock cat

2. Washington Post with “Three Books on Hipsters.”

Their affinity for tight jeans, shaggy hair and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer is easily mocked, but the principal criticism is that they’re frauds.

11. Rose Metal Press is having a fund drive! For 5 years RMP has been putting heart-imploding hybrid/slash/flash into your taped coins/eyes/tattoo tails/synapses. You get stuff, too. Give.

14. Cult Pulp Fiction at Sabotage Times. Or:

Pretty soon, my feverish teenage brain was boiling over with descriptions of high-class orgies, anal penetration and amyl-nitrate-fuelled orgasms.

236. Did someone on this fucking site already link to this long un-cut interview of DFW from 1998? I don’t know. I don’t. If so, some HTML god will most likely remove it and you won’t even see these words. Fuck.

and I of course am a whore

9. Did you hear Steve Martin was so blar they had to offer a refund? Why was he boring? He talked about art. Martin says:

“So the 92nd St. Y has determined that the course of its interviews should be dictated in real time by its audience’s emails. Artists beware.”

Get off my lawn! Yeh but Steve, you’re trying to sell a book. You are Steve Martin. You manipulated, man. But I like it. This goes under one of my favorite genres of public readings: You expected this, I’m going to give you that. Recently, I went to see a semi-famous  memoir writer and she ignored all that and read a dry history of religion. you could hear the air crackle as expectations tumbled into walls. Hissing. Andy Kaufman reading Great Gatsby. Ever been to one of those readings? Like WTF? They glow.

Author Spotlight & Random / 4 Comments
December 3rd, 2010 / 5:31 pm

Today in Class

The Definition of a Prose Poem

For the definition of a prose poem, as defined by my poetry class, see above. The class paired up with one prose poem per pair and, based on just that one poem, wrote a prose poetry manifesto (we read poems by Edson, Simic, Hass, Tate, Forché, Mullen, Bowman, Emanuel–most, but not all, from Great American Prose Poems). Funny to write a manifesto since we’d just read Russell Edson’s feelings on theorizing. Of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry movement, Edson has said they are, “like painters who, instead of painting, spend their days smelling their brushes and easels thinking that a new age is about to dawn.” Of course, that kind of talk is always tinged with a little hypocrisy; there’s always a theory of writing. Maybe the difference is writing out of theory versus writing into theory. Age-old argument, really. Edson has this to say of his proses in his essay, “Portrait of the Writer as a Fat Man”:

A piece of writing must not only have the logic of language, but the logic of composition. Automatic writing doesn’t begin anyplace, and doesn’t end anyplace. It’s like a digestive system without a defined mouth or an asshole…. [My work] is not automatic writing. It’s looking for the shape of thought more than the particulars of the little narrative…. My pieces, when they work, though full of odd happenings, win the argument against disorder through the logic of language and a compositional wholeness. So my ideal prose poem is a small, complete work, utterly logical within its own madness. This is different than surrealism, which usually takes the commonplace and makes it strange, and leaves it there.

I’d say Edson has a theory, though I think he’s almost been forced to explicate it because he so naturally gravitated toward a way of writing (don’t call it a form! It is a form!) that flummoxes so many people.

Sarah Manguso’s 2004 essay in The Believer, “Why the Reader of Good Prose Poems is Never Sad,” is a great piece on prose poetry in general and Edson, who really is the father (grandfather?) “American prose poet,” in particular. Models of the Universe is a great anthology for a larger history of the prose poem, going back to Aloysius Bertrand’s 1842 book, Gaspar de la Nuit. And for interesting discussions and prose poem samples by contemporary prose poets, The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry is good.

So we did prose poetry. Student poems were interesting and wacky, wordy and experimental. As you can see by the chalkboard, our definition of the prose poem does not employ brevity, though we did find lots of interconnected “ways of writing” the prose poem. “The poem sounds like it was shat out” is probably my favorite.

Up next: micro-reviews of contemporary poetry collections/magazines from my students.

Craft Notes / 16 Comments
November 4th, 2010 / 11:46 am

Color Plates by Adam Golaski

A brief review.

Random / 1 Comment
October 18th, 2010 / 10:32 am

We Know What We Are by Mary Hamilton

This gorgeous book is now available for pre-order by Rose Metal Press.

In We Know What We Are, worlds are made, torn apart, drowned. The stories go small: a girl ties a ribbon on a present. The stories go big: a war is raged against the evening sky. The characters in these thirteen short short fictions find themselves in less-than-desirable circumstances. They know their plights. They acknowledge their situations. They give in. They overcome. They daydream a world where everything will be all right.
“The concise stories in this dynamic collection are bursting with moments of stark urgency and unexpected humor, with imagery that moves seamlessly from the bizarre to the oddly familiar, and situations that shift from the ludicrous to the undeniably sad.
Mary Hamilton’s fiction is dream-like, precise, fresh, unexpected, cumulative, delightful, and at times, incantatory. She is a tenacious writer, working each word, each sentence, each image, the way a carver works the stone. It is fun, and fascinating, to see where she goes next.”
—Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic and Desire

Go, buy, now.

Author News / 11 Comments
July 21st, 2010 / 3:45 pm

PSA: Rose Metal Press Chapbook Contest

The Rose Metal Press Fourth Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest submission period begins October 15 and ends December 1, 2009. The 2009 judge will be Dinty W. Moore. The winner will have his/her chapbook published in summer 2010, with an introduction by the contest judge. During the submission period, please email your 25–40 page double-spaced manuscript of short short stories under 1000 words to with a $10 reading fee via Paypal or check. You can find the link to pay the fee here.

And while I promise it won’t be all chick talk all the time, on the heels of the Publisher’s Weekly discussion I’ll also just mention that Rose Metal has received very few manuscripts from women writers. They’d really like to see more balance in the submission pool. Send your damn chapbooks in, bitches.

Presses / 4 Comments
November 4th, 2009 / 1:31 am