Fiction. LGBTQIA Studies. Women's Studies. In thirteen slick, innovative, and gut-wrenching flashes, the young women and girls in BREAKING POINTS, the debut chapbook from Chelsea Stickle, hit the walls around them—walls constructed by family, friends, significant others, and insidious cultural perils. "Stranger danger doesn't disappear when you start wearing a push-up bra," notes one of Stickle's pre-teen narrators when confronted by a leering threat that will forever sever her path from that of her best friend. In "How to Make Stock with Thanksgiving Leftovers," a queer young woman takes us through a wry recipe for boiling turkey stock and raging against small-minded relatives and the traumas they inflict.
Written in the style of a classic glossy magazine personality quiz, "How Mature Are You?: A Quiz" provides whip-smart A, B, C responses to situations such as: "When that bitch in your book club calls you a space cadet" then furnishes the reader with irreverent, pull-no-punches results. This is a collection as darkly humorous as it is heartbreaking and disquieting. Within Stickle's thirteen walled worlds, some will break, some adapt, and others soar. Pushed to the breaking point, none escape unscathed.
"Chelsea Stickle demonstrates her range and mastery of the short form in this tightly-woven debut collection. These stories portray young girls and women on the edge, where vulnerability courts disaster, and a need to be seen is eclipsed by a need to survive. A clear-eyed, riveting, emotionally honest work, BREAKING POINTS is not to be missed."
—Kathy Fish, author of Wild Life: Collected Works
"Each story in BREAKING POINTS is packed with tension and heart, but also invention. Stories here are told in a variety of ways—traditional narrative as well as flow charts, lists, and quizzes. But no matter the form, each story contains unforgettable characters—a mother pulling out her daughter’s teeth, a girl running from a pack of arcade boys. We are in the terror of a moment. We are simultaneously watching the story unfold and relating to it. Each story creates a world so gripping and immersive, you might have to remind yourself to breathe. BREAKING POINTS is a brilliant debut from a writer we will be hearing from for years to come."
—Francine Witte, author of Dressed All Wrong for This and The Way of the Wind
"Sharp and precise as an Exacto blade, Chelsea Stickle is a sorceress of form. Her stories take shape as recipes, catalogs, flow charts, personality quizzes. Even more impressive than her virtuoso forms is what Stickle reveals. In story after story, young women observe the dangers around them (snipers, toxic friends, undermining relatives, parents who are cruel, absent, clueless, or all three at once), and mobilize all their skills to survive. Stickle’s stories are witty, sad, excruciating marvels; like dropped mics or hand grenades, they detonate."
—Kim Magowan, author of Undoing and The Light Source
author siteExcerpt @ McSweeney'sExcerpt @ Pithead Chapel
Chelsea Stickle's flash fiction appears in matchbook, Pithead Chapel, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and others. Her story "Postcard Town" was selected for Best Microfiction 2021. Other stories have been nominated for Best Small Fictions, Best of the Net, Best Microfiction, and the Pushcart Prize. She lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her black rabbit George and a forest of houseplants. BREAKING POINTS (Black Lawrence Press, 2021) is her debut chapbook. Twitter @Chelsea_Stickle.Author City: ANNAPOLIS, MD USA