About The Book
Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, this daring collection of nine stories introduces readers to an edgy vision and a world in which certainties are tested and found wanting. A Cambodian refugee negotiates the icy waters of American social and sexual life. A young couple seeks “peak experiences” to escape grief, only to discover that they’ve brought it along with them. A teenage girl, unable to face the imminent end of her grandfather’s life, risks her own life in an impulsive act. A man’s fragile hold on reality becomes the key to his finding, albeit through a terrifying labyrinth, his heart’s desire. The characters in Bliss and Other Short Stories must find their way to a truth that, though less than perfect, is one they can live with. Finding bliss, it seems, is as much about pain as about pleasure, and in Ted Gilley’s writing the discovery is always exquisite.
"Gilley's debut collection offers admirably constructed narratives from which his troubled protagonists emerge bearing small, resonant victories. . . . Telling, make-or-break moments are the crux of Gilley's stories, allowing his sharply etched characters to find unexpected purpose under fire."—Publishers Weekly
"Bliss and Other Stories is a great collection by a gifted writer."—Kevin O'Kelly, Boston Globe "It is easy to see how this debut collection was selected as the winner of this year's Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction. These stories remind us of the attributes that give short fiction its special appeal. . . . A remarkable debut for all readers of fiction."—Sue Russell, Library Journal
"Each story is a small pleasure. . . . While many tales involve the quiet situations often found in contemporary American short stories, these stand apart, thanks to Gilley's knack for effortless dialogue in whichever diverse, everyday situation he plumbs."—Annie Tully, Booklist Online
"[Bliss and Other Short Stories] is as startling as stumbling upon a full, immense moon—scarred white and sharp above the trees—and just as quiet. This collection's nine stories serve up people who are reeling in the borderland between desire and despair, trying to survive the only way they know how: by recounting their stories and scrambling to make sense of their worlds' unraveling."—Stacy Muszynski, Rumpus.net
“Ted Gilley’s stories serve up to us the natural world in all its ravishing and pastoral wonder, a world that’s always pulling at the sleeve of protagonists keenly attuned to its comforts and solace. They need that solace, for they feel peripheral to the agendas of those they care about most, so that for all their capacity to love, too often for them togetherness is still a knot always untied. These are wise and accomplished stories.”—Jim Shepard, author of Like You’d Understand, Anyway