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With a hearty helping of Detroit grit, the stories in Stiff pay homage to a city turned upside down by economic abandonment. Steve Hughes pushes the boundaries of realism with characters that seem odd and otherworldly. In his Detroit, witches cast spells to improve their husbands, chickens grow from seeds, and lovers realize their sex organs have minds of their own. The characters in Stiff are all searching for something in each other—a certain wholeness or understanding, a place to rest and call home. In “Ripening,” a man and woman in an illicit affair witness their genitals leaving their bodies for a rendezvous. In “Dexter’s Song,” a drug-addicted saxophone player meets a bored suburban woman who gives him her ex-boyfriend’s sax, which unleashes a series of disasters but empowers him to play better than ever. Readers of contemporary fiction will enjoy this outrageous and evocative ensemble of stories.
Steve Hughes is the writer and publisher of Detroit’s longest-running zine Stupor. His collection Stupor: A Treasury of True Stories was funded by a grant from the Kresge Foundation. He is the creator of The Good Tyme Writers Buffet, a literary series and potluck that is presented at Public Pool, a neighborhood art space in Hamtramck. His stories have appeared in Fence and A Detroit Anthology. Hughes lives in Hamtramck, where he continues to collect stories at local watering holes for forthcoming issues of Stupor.
Maria McLeod is a journalism professor at Western Washington University. She has worked extensively as an oral historian, journalist and public relations consultant. She also writes and publishes poetry, fiction, monologues, and interviews. In Bellingham, she is most known for producing works of documentary theatre, including: “Body Talk: Sexual Triumphs, Trials and Revelations,” and, for WWU, “First Person: Diverse Student Stories.” She has collaborated with Kuntz and Company Theatre Dance Troupe to create and record performances related to prisoners, people dealing with terminal illness and those suffering from loss.
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