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AWP 2020

Banjo Grease by Dennis Must

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Banjo Grease

Short stories by Dennis Must

There is an inexplicable gravity in a small town. It can be read and enjoyed like a favorite book for most of its inhabitants. Comforting are its streets and institutions, its wedding and obituary announcements. Banjo Grease is about life and death in a mill town where at each epiphany and rite of passage, the narrator yields a ration of innocence. Characters portray class as a marker as strong as race and gender, and distrust that they will ever escape in their lifetimes. Faulkner uses the term “eager fatalism.” These stories’ cumulative effect asks: When exchanging naivete for worldliness, what is lost in denying one’s past?


“Dennis Must’s first collection of short stories is no ordinary debut but the mature work of a fully accomplished literary artist. Moreover, his originality, his deep irreverence, and his compassion for working-class men and women . . . Strivers and seekers of dreams, signal him as an inspired author in a new American grain—a visionary, poet, and realist . . .”—Tom Jenks, editor (with Raymond Carver) of American Short Story Masterpieces

“Dennis Must’s stunning collection Banjo Grease is just what one hopes for: a series of intriguing, interlocking stories whose cumulative force goes beyond the sum of its parts.”—Geoffrey Clark, author of Jackdog Summer, What the Moon Said, Rabbit Fever

“These stories float through the reader like frozen images. Each one fits into the others unevenly as jagged glass. This is the essence of great fiction at the end of the century; Ray Carver and Thom Jones plowed into some stupendous force that whips along with a tilted wild energy.”—Kate Gale, author of Water Moccasins, Where Crows and Men Collide, and Selling the Hammock


Dennis Must is the author of three novels: The World’s Smallest Bible (Red Hen Press, March 2014), Hush Now, Don’t Explain (Coffeetown Press, 2014), and Brother Carnival (Red Hen Press, 2018); plus three short story collections: Going Dark (Coffeetown Press, 2016), Oh, Don’t Ask Why (Red Hen Press, 2007) and Banjo Grease (Creative Arts Book Company, 2000; Red Hen Press, 2019). He won the 2014 Dactyl Foundation Literary Fiction Award for Hush Now, Don’t Explain, and The World’s Smallest Bible was a 2014 USA Best Book Award Finalist in the Literary Fiction category. His plays have been produced off-off-Broadway and he has been published in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He resides with his wife in Salem, Massachusetts.

PUB DATE: November 19, 2019
ISBN:  978-1-59709-035-3
SIZE: 5in x 8in
FORMAT: Tradepaper
EXTENT: 168pp

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