Fox Tooth Heart, John McManus
American Academy of Arts and Letters 2019 Literature Award Winner
Stories encompass the geographic limits of America, from trailers hidden in deep Southern woods to an Arkansas ranch converted into an elephant refuge. His lost-soul characters reel precariously between common anxiety and drug-enhanced paranoia; sober reality and fearsome hallucination. These nine masterpieces of twisted humor and pathos re-establish John McManus as one of the most bracing voices of our time.
John McManus is the author of the novel Bitter Milk and the short story collections Born on a Train and Stop Breakin Down, all published by Picador USA. He is a recipient of the Whiting Writers’ Award, a Fulbright Scholar grant, and a Creative Capital Literature grant. His work has appeared in Ploughshares, Tin House, American Short Fiction, The Oxford American, The Literary Review, Harvard Review, and other journals and anthologies. His MFA comes from the James A. Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas. He grew up in East Tennessee and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.
PRAISE FOR FOX TOOTH HEART:
“McManus shows a quirky originality in these nine stories as he focuses on the outré and bizarre doings of his off-center characters.”
“[These] wildly inventive short stories . . . exist in a meticulously crafted world, quite different than our own. . . . McManus delves into the minds of his characters, allowing readers to experience their anxieties, delusions, fantasies, and fears.”
“[T]he exciting thing about reading McManus is watching how closely he skirts toward exploitative, lurid caricature, then routinely swerves into territory that is humane and insightful. . . . McManus burrows deep under the skins of his rough, cast-out characters and emerges with stories that are bold and ingenious.”
—The New York Times
“Fox Tooth Heart will impress readers. . . . McManus is a terrific writer. Regarding the ‘Southern decadence’ in his stories, consider that Edgar Poe’s lunatics and sensualists also blacked out from opium, alcohol or fear; and that Tennessee Williams’ depraved neurotics, like the playwright himself, often ran from truths of the heart.”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A phenomenal talent blazing up suddenly on the horizon."
"Powered by radiant prose."
"Visceral prose that explodes within the tight boundaries of the short story."
"McManus's consciouness flows not like a stream but like a flash flood."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"This is a shadows world, the 'dark' side of America, and like a shadow, you can't get rid of it."
"Here is rage on the page. . . . And yes, I want to know about it."
—Los Angeles Times
"Of all the short story writers I admire, John McManus is the one most likely to surprise me. . . . Nobody else writes like him, and Fox Tooth Heart is his best collection yet."
"Reading a McManus story isn't entirely unlike doing a popper of amyl nitrite. . . . an extended moment of disquieting literary ecstasy."