Late last year, in my informal role as books editor for Burlesque Press, I edited and designed the first book we published: Siren Song, by Tawni Waters.
This summer, I’m very proud to present the press’s second publication, a novel, A House Made of Stars, by Tawnysha Greene.
It’s a great story and I feel privileged to have helped turn it into a real book.
Tawnysha Greene also lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, and I had seen her give readings when she won awards for her poetry or fiction. She was always brilliant.
But when my wife and I got the chance to read her manuscript, I was still surprised. A House Made of Stars somehow manages to be both heartbreaking and quick to read; horrifying and beautiful. The prose is very generous to its reader, offering a smooth surface for the eye to race across, yet the horrors of this young girl’s life build and build.
What’s it about?
A young girl, ten years old and hard-of-hearing, attempts to cope with her family’s descent into poverty and desperation. Sensitive and perceptive, she is able to view the outside world with profound precision and care — even though she is mystified by the actions of the troubled and self-destructive adults around her. However, she slowly comes to understand the real source of the family’s sufferings, leading her on a harrowing journey of escape.
We were not the only people who admired Greene’s work. In the process of writing the novel, she sent out chapters and excerpts to literary magazines, seeing if the work would resonate with editors, and she ultimately released selections from her work-in-progress with (take a breath) Weave Magazine, storySouth, Blue Lake Review, JMWW, PANK Magazine, Hobart, Bartleby Snopes, A-Minor, Monkeybicycle, Waccamaw, Barely South Review, Raleigh Review, decomP, elimae, Dogzplot, Bellingham Review, Emprise Review, The Citron Review, Annalemma, Bluestem Magazine, Used Furniture Review, Necessary Fiction, Staccato Fiction, 52/250 A Year of Flash, Eunoia Review, 2River View, Wigleaf, Rougarou: An Online Journal, Still: The Journal, and Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts.
Wow. She’s had more acceptances than many of us have had rejections.
There’s a launch party on July 11th, in Knoxville, if you’re in the area, and she will also be introducing the novel at The Hands On Literary Festival, at the end of the year, in New Orleans. Come! Ask questions!