Fiction. Short Stories. The landscape of Amy Sayre Baptista's PRIMITIVITY is mapped by cracked asphalt and dark woods, by broken bridges spanning greedy rivers, sunbaked dirt and ghost roads, séances held in gun repair shops, and retribution exacted in long grasses and hog pits and Segway tracks. These nine stories weave together a community borrowed from history and spanning centuries in a re-imagined Pike County, a geographical conundrum found in three different states yet joined by the same hungry river. From strangers to spiritualists to families bound by love and blood, the characters who populate Sayre Baptista's stories tell tall tales of survivorship in the American south. To enter PRIMITIVITY's pages is to arrive in a harsh yet beguiling topography of ghosts, thieves, and a hangman's lament.
"PRIMITIVITY stunned me with its power, its wounded heart, its terrible grace. The language sings truth with a scalding poetry, and survivors' humor knocks you sideways when you least expect it. There is hard-won wisdom here, and love always pushing its way through the cracks."—Susan Power
"Hilarious. Intelligent. Well-paced. Southern. Gothic. Steady and studied. In PRIMITIVITY, Amy Sayre Baptista wrestles with the large and expansive history of the southern tale, wrestles with the ghosts of Eudora Welty and Carson McCullers, wrestles the phantasms of William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor, wrestles with the difficulty of southern morality, ethics, and criminality. However, she does not merely recapitulate or re-present the well-trod territory of these southern masters. Instead, she complicates the southern gothic, the southern storytelling tradition through grappling with feminism and its rural, southern iterations, through the sly use of Darwin, evolution, and philosophical argumentation. And that's just the intellectual level. These stories are also amazingly lyrical and entertaining. Each story left this reader panting, wanting more. The voices, the voices, they sit with you, haunt you long after the story is over, leaving you to look over your shoulder and wonder if indeed there might not be someone sitting there behind you. Baptista sits in her speaker's voices with the aplomb and vivacity of a poet. These are stories to be read and re-read."—Roger Reeves
"A lyricism of survival accents the stark beauty of Amy Sayre Baptista's sumptuous new collection of prose-poems. A harsh landscape still yields bright feathers, and the survivors of hard lives are fierce about 'raw-mouthing a chant.' The effect is deeply rural and indisputably American, embracing origins of 'fang and claw.' A woman will judge a man good because he looks like 'heat and food.' You'll meet the no-nonsense Aunt Gin and listen to the ghost of a hangman—'a murderer of murderers.' You'll hear of fondness for fruit pies. You'll listen to apparitions testify. Amy Sayre Baptista has given voice to a wholly original chorus declaring how we 'we build our own traps, build our own wings.'"—Katherine Vaz
author siteInterview with Annie Bilancini @ SmokeLong Quarterly
Amy Sayre Baptista's writing has appeared in The Best Small Fictions (2017), Corium, SmokeLong Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Butter, Alaska Quarterly Review, and other journals. She was a SAFTA fellow (2015), a CantoMundo Poetry fellow (2013), and a scholarship recipient to the Disquiet Literary Festival in Lisbon, Portugal (2011). She performs with Kale Soup for the Soul, a Portuguese-American artist's collective, and Poetry While You Wait (Chicago). She is a co-founder of Plates&Poetry, a community arts program focused on food and writing. She has an MFA in Fiction from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and teaches Humanities at Western Governors University. She lives in Illinois.Author City: SPRINGFIELD, IL USA