Each of these nine flash-fiction stories offers a little taste of magic coupled with meditation. Philosophical and inventive, in turn, Knox examines the human condition through modern myth, broaching topics such as generational divides and similarities, enchantments mistaken for madness, and anxiety induced from overactive imaginations. Short enough to consume in moments, each of tiny stories unfurls and unfolds, introducing us to new worlds in unexpected ways that will offer pause and perspective, perhaps even a brief reprieve."
In a seamless blend of the literary and the speculative, Jen Knox's short prose delivers sharp shards of love and truth. Knox captivates and transports her readers with lyrical constructions, achingly resonant lost souls, and the hopeful glimmer of an artistic life."
—Mary Lynn Reed & Lesley C. Weston, Editors, MoonPark Review
"In this collection of tautly woven stories, Jen Knox offers us surreal adult parables. The fantastical nudges up against Odd Lots, paying rent, and worrying about aging parents. Logic ricochets off into all kinds of boundless directions, pushing out our sense of the "ordinary" so we learn to expect anything in these stories: a young girl who discovers the backs of her knees spill out coins, an installation artist who talks to the muse in her plump belly. Each character stumbles through a tired, not always empathetic world, but her fears, anxieties and strange talents leave open the possibility for something a little bit better."
—Alexandra van de Kamp, author of Kiss/Hierarchy
★ Chapbook (available in print, ebook and audio)
★ Excerpts in Flash Fiction Magazine, MoonPark Reivew &
The Best Small Fictions
★ Audio narrated by Suzanne Warfield
The Glass City
5-year Anniversary edition forthcoming.
“Jen Knox is a fearless writer. She can describe a Toledo community decimated by apocalyptic drought, a bakery in Nice during a terrorist attack, a surreal museum of living statues, and make every one of these things feel as real and intimate as your favorite worn-in flannel shirt. Acutely alert to the smallest moments that reveal character, her stories can give you a whole life in a few short paragraphs, laid bare in all its sorrow, glory, and restless longing. She can work dialogue, twist a plot, make you laugh out loud, and then break your heart. The Glass City speaks to the America of now as urgently as Sinclair Lewis or Theodore Dreiser did in their day, but with a
touch of magic that only makes the reality beneath that much more haunting.”
—Sheila Black, author of Iron, Ardent
“Jen Knox is a master cartographer of the human psyche. In the stories of The Glass City, she maps the depths and complexity of the human mind against the backdrop of a future so possible yet so surreal that it’s nearly futile to try to set the book down. I kept telling myself, just one more page before bed, just one more story—until I found myself turning the last page in the middle of the night, having forgotten to eat dinner. Ultimately, The Glass City is the miracle of artistic imagination at its absolute peak: read casually, it thrills and entertains us with insightful depictions of who we are; read deeply, it shows us who we can become.”
—Melissa Studdard, author of I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast
“A set of penetrating and absorbing tales."
after the gazebo
Complex, assured stories that describe the complications of love and need with perfect pitch.
Jen Knox writes the healthy fiction equivalent of the detox smoothie you’d get if you poured half a cup of Mary Gaitskill, two tablespoons of Mary Robison, a teaspoonful of Raymond Carver, and some chilly Laura van den Berg into a Tom Waits blender and hit puree. Here are twenty-four darkly fun stories populated by everyman and everywoman genetically predisposed to ‘tough luck but hopeful genes,’ and primed for fight or flight. And yet she has the uncanny ability to make you root for even her most unredeemed characters in all of their stressed out glory. All of them inhabitants of our lonely damaged universe, searching for connection in the daily grind of everyday losses.
—Richard Peabody, editor Gargoyle Magazine
The perfect pitch, the flawless diction, and the aura of calm are all grace notes with which Jen Knox cloaks the troubled waters of the human heart. A Knox tale begins in a recognizable place, but in every one of these brilliant stories, she confounds the reader’s expectations and ends them in eerily beautiful, untrod territory. The stories in After the Gazebo seduce yet refuse what is coarse; they disdain the slipknot of the obscene, and still they electrify. Exquisite and edgy, they quietly shock. The reader bestows a rock solid trust in this narrator’s voice and is willing to linger with the energy drinks and flat-screen TVs, the 12 Steps, the cubicles and performance reviews, the bus rides and DMV’s eye tests. This author does not hide behind the exotic but with great skill and generosity braves the commonplace. These stories go fathoms deep—all the way to the shivery core, where the familiar heightens into the sublime, and then into the dazzling. The perceptible world has been sorely neglected in fiction, perhaps waiting for a writer with the craft and courage to take it on. Jen Knox is that writer. After the Gazebo is that book.
—Stephanie Dickinson, author of Love Highway
After the Gazebo is a wonder: complex, compelling, beautifully told. Jen Knox writes with a deceptively quiet fierceness that will sneak up behind you and grab you by the throat, clutch your heart, and never let go. Her motley cast of characters find themselves caught at the fault line of before and after, tasked to challenge the veracity of whether "a person can't start over if he's always looking back." The disparate ways they claw and fight, strive and fail to succeed are testament to Knox's range and her deep understanding of the human condition. The stories in this accomplished collection will make you ache, will make you think, and will stay with you long after you turn the final page.
—Sara Lippmann, author of Doll Palace
Jen Knox’s After the Gazebo offers us an astounding panorama of torqued moments and vignettes that strike the depths and dimensions of human behavior. Each cautionary tale illuminates the next, reminding us of the uncanny impact that fate, luck and destiny have on our lives, and weaving all the necessary elements: “I never saw the value of negative space, but learned to live inside of it. With kids de-bussing around us and the cold biting our cheeks, we all knelt on the pavement and scratched lottery tickets.” Knox’s keen eye and heart are devoted to noticing every detail, infusing the most ordinary and subliminal experiences with epiphanies that transcend her characters. The range and depth of each story in this collection is pitch-perfect, as the writer hits the marks, gripping us with vivid, familial and domestic landscapes that inform and widen our own lives—leave us all the richer for it. After the Gazebo is indelible and astonishing.
—Cynthia Atkins, author of In the Event of Full Disclosure
Jen Knox is an incredibly versatile writer whose stories go down smooth and burn for days. Few people on the planet are both acute observers as well as superb prose stylists. Jen Knox is one of those rarities. And After the Gazebo is proof!
—Mathieu Cailler, author of Loss Angeles
With a clear lens pressed to her creative eye, Jen Knox has crafted a diverse collection of stories where loss, hardships, and tender vulnerabilities are stretched across the uncertain horizon of everyday life.
—Beth Hoffman, internationally bestselling author of Looking for Me
Jen Knox is a writer of honesty, and her stories always indicate her clear understanding that even those flawed people in the world have their moments of goodness and beauty and that we are all flawed. The stories in Knox’s newest collection, After the Gazebo, are impossible to read piecemeal. I devoured the book in one sitting and will read them again and again. Knox’s writing is nuanced and strong, her stories filled with glorious gems of insight, which made me feel like a woman in a diamond mine, admiring dark walls studded with sparkling treasure. As I read each piece I discovered riches hiding in and between each narrative moment. Even in the most shadow-rich stories, Knox builds a kind of grace into her characters, showing empathy for the human condition that transcends the hurt, equalizes the pain. We want to know these people, ask them questions about their lives, and help them heal. We do know these people. They are our neighbors, our fellow workers, our families, ourselves. This gentle book is a triumph in which the seemingly ordinary becomes the extraordinary.
—Joani Reese, Editor of MadHat Lit and author of Night Chorus
"As the stories build upon one another, they expand the perceptions and thoughts about Jasmine's world. This approach opens up the discussion to incorporate Midwest community perspectives, refuting stereotypes about their relationships and viewpoints of life and providing astute, literary observations that linger in the mind long after their presentation.
Any reader looking for discussions of family life, Midwestern values, and evolving parental roles will relish the interlaced delicacy of Resolutions, which blends psychological and social analysis with equal talent."
--D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer at Midwest Book Reviews
“So thoroughly immersive in prose and purpose. Like watching a series of plays on the most intimate of stages. Yet Jen Knox doesn’t rely on the trappings of ‘pretty’ writing. A story is only as good as its characters, and she’s created a vibrant, grounded world full of life and substance. A marvelously effective work—and an author to watch.”
– Matt Joseph Misetich (Partner, Book Pipeline)
"Set in Ohio and told from the point of view of a struggling single mother and her youngest daughter, Resolutions is a beautifully rendered, poignant, and earnest look at the modern American family. Jen Knox illustrates what we are capable of as daughters, sons, mothers, grandchildren, friends, and siblings—the roles we play, what we do to each other, what we owe each other, and how we carry on when we fail spectacularly. At the heart of this book is a fierce, loving voice that shines through in characters so real you ache for them. Knox has written an unforgettable account of a traumatized working-class family and how they continue to survive and love despite perpetual hardship."
– Beth Gilstrap, Author of I Am Barbarella: Stories (2015) and Deadheading & Other Stories (Red Hen Press 2021)