Destroy All Monsters

Winner of the 2010 Book Prize in Fiction

About the Book

Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, Greg Hrbek’s Destroy All Monsters, and Other Stories is a collection that explores what it means to be human—and inhuman. These ten stories have won an array of honors—and whether set in the historical past or in a speculative future, each is wildly imaginative and shockingly real. In “Sagittarius,” selected for The Best American Short Stories, a mother and father search a dark forest for their missing newborn, who is either a child with profound birth defects or a miraculous creature. In “False Positive,” a ghostly girl visits her biological father ten years after being aborted in utero. In “Bereavement,” a marriage is falling apart following a child’s accidental death, but a combination of myth and technology provides hope for a second life. Fantastic, horrific, painfully familiar, these stories are the work of a consummate storyteller.


You can read an excerpt from Destroy All Monsters on the University of Nebraska Press website here.


“Mr. Hrbek’s writing is often lovely and sparse—almost poetic.”—Michael Adelberg, New York Journal of Books

“Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, Hrbek’s first collection subtly and masterfully merges the everyday and the mythic, poetic, futuristic, and seemingly impossible.”—Jonathan Fullmer, Booklist

“Hrbek . . . is a master at voices. He brings the reader into the universe of his troubled characters, whose imagined “monsters” and elaborate constructions of reality may not be so different from one’s own. He is a writer to watch.”—Sue Russell, Library Journal

“Each story in this spellbinding collection hovers on the threshold of the impossible, the place where our most basic fears and desires as mothers and fathers and children get turned into something so new and startling the sight of it can change you forever. These are dark stories, but at the heart of their darkness there is perfect, irresistible radiance.” —Kathryn Davis, author of The Thin Place

“These are unsettling but strangely moving stories written under the sign of Terror—about freaks of nature (centaurs, mermaids), about the terror of war (Hiroshima, a dystopian disaster of the future), about subteen suicides, about the invasion of Saipan, about an eleven-year-old criminal on death row. . . . Hrbek is a gifted narrator who moves with stealth and swiftness toward his violent fictional goals. He belongs in the same league as Judy Budnitz and Gary Shteyngart—young visionaries who have seen the future and know its hell.”—Edmund White, author of A Boy’s Own Story

Greg Hrbek

About the Author

Greg Hrbek lives in Saratoga Springs, New York. He is the recipient of fellowships from the University of Iowa, the Michener Copernicus Society, Princeton University, and the NEA/Japan-US Friendship Commission. His novel, The Hindenburg Crashes Nightly, was awarded the James Jones First Novel Award by the James Jones Literary Society. In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews called the book “a subtle, inventive, moving portrayal of contemporary angst shared and suffered by a cast of exasperatingly real and perversely likeable characters.” His short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories 2009, Harper’s Magazine, Black Warrior Review, Idaho Review, Sonora Review, Salmagundi, The 2007 Robert Olen Butler Prize Stories, and the Bridport Prize 2006 (UK). He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award in Fiction. He has taught fiction writing at Vassar College and Butler University, and he was Distinguished Visiting Writer at Boise State University in 2002. Since 2001, he has been Writer-in-Residence at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, where he lives with his wife, son, and daughter.