Longlisted for 2018 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction 

“A man returning a tuxedo suddenly follows a parking lot attendant home; a volunteer recovery worker finds himself re-enacting a deadly fire; a husband parses the meaning of his wife’s online banking password; a hack musician travels to a German math institute. Post-Facebook, post-subprime crisis, and post-prosperity, the fearlessly deadpan characters in Alex Higley’s debut collection navigate the bleak and surreal suburbs from Phoenix to Chicago with minimal instincts for self-preservation–and with quietly explosive results. Stylish, perfectly controlled, and pleasurably shocking, Higley’s brilliantly subversive portraits of a lost generation reconfigure and reinvent the increasingly complex relationships between art, life, and the people we love.”

“I love the mind at work in these wonderfully strange stories about so-called ordinary life. They go right to the heart of how uncanny, even bizarre, ordinary life really is, if you’re paying attention. This is not ‘absurdist’ work. It’s ultra-realism. It’s evidence of a new, fresh voice— intelligent, strange, deeply familiar, oddly funny, pleasantly disturbing. Add Higley’s stories to my favorites.”
– Brad Watson, author of Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives and Miss Jane: A Novel

“Alex Higley has a poet’s eye that registers the light and the dark with equal insight, an eye that sees the welter and wiles of humanity with precision, pathos, and humor. In these twenty stories, Higley memorably explores questions related to love, friendship, mortality, the powerful grip of the past, regret, desire. A very impressive debut.”
– Christine Sneed, author of Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry and Little Known Facts

“Few books have captivated me like Alex Higley’s collection of deft and compact stories. Even fewer contain such a variety of compelling characters—from erudite security guards, to clandestine ufologists, to a little boy who insists on reminding his second grade class that they’re going to die. Unlike so much of what I read now, the brilliance of Higley’s stories is subtle and implicit, utterly at the service of the heartbreaking truths about which they’re built. Cardinal is a remarkable debut, and Alex Higley is a writer with a career to watch.”
– Naeem Murr, author of The Perfect Man

“‘It’s late morning, Sunday, bright and green October,’ is how the scene is set at the opening of ‘Cardinal,’ the title story in Alex Higley’s compelling collection. Higley is a writer whose gift for capturing the daylight lit surface of ordinary life is a cover for the undercurrents and shadows his fiction explores. Higley’s collection with its quick-paced, page-turning narratives and its clear, artful writing is anything but ordinary.”
Stuart Dybek, author of The Coast of Chicago: Stories and I Sailed with Magellan

“One of my favorite discoveries in the past year is the writer Alex Higley. His stories develop so cleanly and powerfully that it’s hard to believe this is his first book. Admirers of Frederick Barthelme and Brad Watson—you now have a new writer to cherish.”
– Shane Jones, author of Daniel Fights a Hurricane and Crystal Eaters

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