“Oddly beautiful and impossible to look away from” (Los Angeles Times), the stories in The Fat Artist are suffused with fear and desire, introducing us to a company of indelible characters reeling with love, jealousy, megalomania, and despair.
In prose alternately stark, lush and hallucinatory, occasionally nightmarish and often absurd,
the voices in Benjamin Hale’s The Fat Artist and Other Stories speak from the margins: a dominatrix whose longtime client, a US congressman, drops dead during a tryst in a hotel room; an addict in precarious recovery who lands a job driving a truck full of live squid; a heartbroken performance artist who attempts to eat himself to death as a work of art. From underground radicals hiding in Morocco to an aging hippy in Colorado in the summer before 9/11 to a young drag queen in New York at the cusp of the AIDS crisis, these stories rove freely across time and place, carried by haunting, peculiar narratives that form the vast tapestry of American life.
“A steadily growing…talent” (Kirkus Reviews), Hale’s prize-winning fiction abounds with a love of language and a wild joy for storytelling, earning accolades from writers such as novelist Jonathan Ames, who compared discovering his work to watching Mickey Mantle play ball for the first time; Washington Post critic Ron Charles, who declared him “fully evolved as a writer,” and bestselling author Jodi Picoult, who simply called him “brilliant.” Pairing absurdity with philosophical musings on the unnerving intersections between life and death, art and ridicule, consumption and creation, “the audacious imagination evident in Hale’s acclaimed debut, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, shines again in this…provocative collection that takes a unique view of the human condition” (Booklist).
Benjamin Hale is the author of the short story collection The Fat Artist and Other Stories and the novel The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared, among other places, in Conjunctions, Harper’s, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Dissent, and has been anthologized in Best American Science and Nature Writing. Originally from Colorado, he is a senior editor of Conjunctions, currently teaches at Bard College, and lives in a small town in New York’s Hudson Valley.