A New Collection from Wendell Mayo, author of 'In Lithuanian Wood', and 'The Cucumber King of Kédainiaŕ.
Wendell Mayo captures the fractured, mournful soul of modern Lithuania like no other writer. In his new book, Twice-Born World: Stories of Lithuania, he resurrects themes from In Lithuanian Wood and The Cucumber King of Kėdainiai: grief, loneliness, the impossibility of communication, the inexplicability of desire. In this volume, the themes are even more sharply delineated, with desire playing a more prominent role. Mayo’s characters, like Lithuania herself, long to connect to a more youthful, hopeful version of the past. As always, Mayo masterfully combines elements of the absurd with deeply poetic language. Every story in Twice-Born World is a gem. I couldn’t put this book down.
— Daiva Markelis, author of White Field, Black Sheep: A Lithuanian-American Life
“In Twice-Born World, Wendell Mayo manages the seemingly impossible—to make his stories both steeped in post-Soviet Lithuanian sensibilities while also making them feel universal. These are characters in the midst of transition, characters who frequently tell stories that mesmerize, as if stories might make sense of this beguiling new world. The effect is startling as Mayo seamlessly slides through space and time and perspective, offering subtle commentary on the geopolitics of the 1980s, all of which feels particularly acute in 2018. A necessary companion to Mayo’s In Lithuanian Wood, and a stunning collection by a master of the short story.” —Brad Felver, author of The Dogs of Detroit
Twice-Born World transports readers to a Baltic sphere of post-Soviet nostalgia and struggle, of boozy, clumsy, and erotic East-West encounters, of overheard park-bench conversations, and of knee-capped Lenin statues. In this clear-eyed yet hope-filled collection, Wendell Mayo welcomes us to his Lithuania: a topsy-turvy place of rainfall, blue skies, everyday poetry, sinking despair, and limitless possibility.” —Julija Šukys, author of Siberian Exile: Blood, War, and a Granddaughter’s Reckoning
“Wendell Mayo’s heart-wrenching new collection about contemporary Lithuania proves yet again that he is one of the living masters of the short story form. Mayo employs a dazzling array of voices, creates a host of unforgettable characters, both Lithuanian and American, and keeps at his ready a sympathetic and encyclopedic knowledge of Lithuanian history; in the process, he weaves tenacious tales about men and women snared by political circumstances, but even more so by the unruly instincts of their own hearts. Yet finally, miraculously, in the end, every story in the book manages to be about the act of storytelling itself: its magic, its elusiveness, and its biological power. Mayo has never written so convincingly and so well.” —John Vanderslice, author of Island Fog
Wendell Mayo was a native of Corpus Christi, Texas. He authored six collections of short stories, recently, What Is Said About Elephants with Unsolicited Press in 2020. His other collections are Survival House (SFASU Press); The Cucumber King of Kėdainiai, winner of the Subito Press Award for Innovative Fiction; Centaur of the North (Arte Público Press), winner of the Aztlán Prize; B. Horror and Other Stories (Livingston Press); and a novel-in-stories, In Lithuanian Wood (White Pine Press), which appeared in Lithuanian translation as Vilko Valanda [Engl: Hour of the Wolf] with Mintis Press in Vilnius. Over one-hundred of his short stories have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies, including Yale Review, Harvard Review, Manoa, Missouri Review, Boulevard, New Letters, Threepenny Review, Indiana Review, and Chicago Review. He received the National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, a Fulbright to Lithuania (Vilnius University), two Individual Excellence Awards from the Ohio Arts Council, and a Master Fellowship from the Indiana Arts Commission. He taught fiction writing in the MFA/BFA programs at Bowling Green State University for over twenty years.