Ben Stroud is the author of the short story collection Byzantium (Graywolf, 2013), winner of the Bakeless Fiction Prize. Stroud’s short fiction has appeared in such places as Harper’s, Ecotone, The Boston Review, One Story, Electric Literature,and New Stories from the South. Originally from Texas, Stroud holds a BA in English and History from the University of Texas at Austin and an MFA in Fiction and a PhD in Twentieth-Century American Literature from the University of Michigan. He has received residencies from Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and has taught literature and creative writing at universities in the US and Germany. Currently, he is Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Toledo. For more on Stroud or his work, please visit his website.
There are images from Kyle Minor’s stories that will stick with me to the grave: a man laying hands on a dying man’s tumor, a preacher baking biscuits at a boy’s funeral. These images sear because they get at the gruesome failures of life. The preacher bakes biscuits in a gimmicky bid for consolation. There seems no true feeling in his action, and so it falls far short of the gravity of the moment. The man with the tumor thinks the narrator of “Seven Stories about Sebastian of Koulev-Ville” is the healer come to pray over him. The narrator has […]
Rabih Alameddine’s latest novel, The Hakawati, is itself about the power of a good story—its ability to engage us and, when collected with other stories, make us who we are. The narrative takes readers from a hospital in present-day Beirut to a Lebanese village in the years before World War I, to the mythic medieval past of the Middle East. Some stories simply begin of their own accord, and others grow from tales already being told. For instance, the story of the hero Baybars, which stretches across the novel, is told within another story by an emir who hopes, through the telling, to ensure his child will be a boy–further testament to the power of (and power of believing in) stories.
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