NAMED ONE OF THE “BEST INDIE BOOKS OF 2021” BY KIRKUS REVIEWS
Fiction. SEMIOTIC LOVE [STORIES] draws upon symbols and objects to explore the loss of relationships. In these pages, Brian Phillip Whalen reaches deep into the throat of anxiety with a graceful hand and understated humor as he confronts mothers and best friends dying slow or sudden deaths, disappointing vacations, and vanishing sisters. While loss of all kinds permeates these compact stories, it is the tenderness and longing that attaches itself to the reader and propels them to turn the page. This book reminds us that for better or for worse, we're all a little rougher with the people we love the most.
"Whalen's debut collection spotlights everyday American people who’ve lost family, love, and meaning...Alluring, enlightening, and unforgettable stories."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Brian Phillip Whalen has an incredible ear for dialogue, an eye for precise details, and a knack for delivering surprise after surprise, skills he deploys well through this excellent collection. The energy is relentless, each story a fresh burst of deep emotion and deeper wonder: once you start reading, you won't want to stop."—Matt Bell
"There's the uncanny, then there are Brian Phillip Whalen's stories. In a realm of their own, his tales are populated by fragile human beings who can't believe their eyes and ears, yet through trial and error, march on. Whalen's writing is witty, surprising, frank, often tender, sometimes frightening. The striking voice and style in SEMIOTIC LOVE emerge from a compelling mind, and a thoughtful reader of love shaped in the contemporary world."—Lynne Tillman
"With the heart of Denis Johnson, the mind of a Zen master, and a deep, generous soul all his own, Brian Phillip Whalen has written a captivating, transcendent book. Whalen's shimmering sentences will make you laugh and cry and marvel and feel lucky to be alive. Smart money says you'll start rereading this extraordinary collection moments after you reach its final page."—Edward Schwarzschild
"SEMIOTIC LOVE bears the sign of a remarkable talent. Whalen is that rare writer who knows when to step aside and let his readers 'watch the sky fall apart.' With light and mercury, he exposes images of unprecedented potency—how better to speak of all our unspeakable loves?"—JoAnna Novak
"Whalen is a master of the deadpan landing. His pith packs a punch. These fictions are our new wig and wag semaphores, transmitting, in bits and bytes, our encrypted and buried grammars of the heart. The [stories] that annotate and detonate SEMIOTIC LOVE are like Hemingway's 'chapter' hint fictions that grout together the stories of In Our Time. They mine a muted telegraphy that scales up, in Whalen's hands, to the cumulonimbus diction and syntax of skywriting. I loved these mean little meanings."—Michael Martone
"Whalen’s logical dissection of eros wittily demonstrates the narrative potential of the schematic." —Matt Seidel, The Millions
“The collection creeps up on you—lobbing curveballs of humor and heartbreak with a practiced arm...Most memorably, these stories carry the passing of parents, siblings, and friends whose memory creates, as the collection unfolds, a rich ecosystem of love and loss. “
—Maddie King, Bloom
"[R]eading Brian Phillip Whalen’s Semiotic Love is like eating a multi-layered trifle...topped with clever narrative techniques and symbols, all drizzled with language that is as rich as it is innovative."
—The Masters Review
"Whalen skillfully captures the unpredictable waves of loss...while a major theme is grief (raising its many heads), the end result is an affirmation of life. This book hurts. It will hurt you. But you’re just grateful Whalen is delivering the tender punches."
—Heavy Feather Review
"Whalen is writing beautiful short stories that cut to the heart of all the twisted nuances and dilemmas in American love...Semiotic Love [Stories] can take its place among the Cheever, Carver, and Munro classics. So, Deborah Treisman, have a read, and everyone else, too. Spread the word. These love stories are the bomb."
— DM O’Connor, Rhino Magazine
Brian Phillip Whalen's work can be found in The Southern Review, Creative Nonfiction, Copper Nickel, Poets.org, the Flash Nonfiction Food anthology, The Southern Poetry Anthology: Virginia, and elsewhere. Brian holds a PhD from the State University of New York at Albany and is the recipient of a Vermont Studio Center residency. He lives with his wife and daughter in Tuscaloosa where he teaches creative and first-year writing at The University of Alabama. This is his first book.
Author City: TUSCALOOSA, AL USA