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Brandi Wells

Brandi Wells has a BA in Creative Writing and her fiction appears in or is forthcoming in Pear Noir, Monkey Bicycle, Decomp, and Vulcan. She is the author of the short story collection Please Don’t Be Upset and the forthcoming The Way We Sleep.


“In stories often disguised as instruction manuals, as apologies and confessions, as notes left behind, Brandi Wells creates a world of tempting baubles, each tiny fiction begging to be discovered, to be stolen away, to be secreted safe and treasured.”

– Matt Bell, author of Cataclysm Baby and How They Were Found

"Brandi Wells debuts with an intense collection in Please Don’t Be Upset. Her characters are bold imaginings, facing the worst of scenarios and willing themselves through, victorious. Every story is a surprise and a smack in the face, a killer combination that wounds you but also makes you stronger."

– Michael Czyzniejewski, author of Elephants in Our Bedroom and Chicago Stories

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Please Don’t Be Upset

I Would Never Want to Spit Them Up: An Open Letter to Brandi Wells


Dear Brandi Wells,

It was night and we were in my room and my mattress was on the floor. A friend was sitting on it, talking about his fractured heart. Another friend was there too, licking her fingers over an empty box of pizza, empty except for the residue of grease. I was leaning up against my desk, which had a stack of books on it. On the top of the stack was yours, Please Don’t Be Upset. I remembered how I had taken it all in in one gulp. I remembered the way your words felt when I read them out loud — to myself — how they had at once made me feel too small and too big.

I wanted to read them again.

I wanted everyone to listen, to know what your stories could do. So I picked up your book and started reciting a story I’ve since nearly memorized, “Seven Things I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You.” I called out the title to the room and my friends got quiet and I started to read what you had written. “I want to put my fingers in your nose,” I said, “so I can feel where the life goes inside you.” I continued: “When I am trying to fall asleep, I think about flattening you with a giant iron and wrapping your carcass around me like a blanket. When the blood turns cold, I will wear you anyway.”

I finished reading and the room stayed quiet.

My friend with the grease on her fingers reached out and took your book like she was defending it, started over like it was the most important thing on earth.

This is what your stories do.

This is what your stories have done.

This story is true.

Brandi Wells, your book is one that transcends genre. The narrators of your stories are so honest, I wonder if they are really you. They are often unsentimental, other times brutal and yet they are tender. I’m thinking of an excerpt of your story “Bald”: “I find myself drawn to balding men . . . those men in process. I think it’s the idea that they have a chance to say goodbye to their hair. It’s a slow parting.”

So really, the book transcends itself, too.

After reading it I could no longer call it a book, but instead knew it as only a part of me, like a new lung, or an extra arm. Did you plan for that to happen? Did you know I would swallow your words whole and never want to spit them up? Are you hearing what I’m trying to tell you? I’m trying to say that I hope you are happy even though your stories are sometimes sad. I hope that before you sleep each night you pause to think about how your book is out in the world, that people are reading it, reading it again. I hope you are somewhere warm, but not too warm, and that you are still writing.

But I was talking about “Bald”:

"I sit by myself in diners and watch them drink their coffee and fiddle with their toast. Balding men are slow eaters. They are awkward. They do not know what to do with a piece of toast. It’s a flirtation. They see the toast, they are getting to know the toast and then the toast is inside them. This is the way with all relationships."

This, too, is the way of your Please Don’t Be Upset: suddenly inside me, twisting, showing my guts what they’re made of.

Thank you, Brandi Wells.



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1 Comment

  1. Ethel Rohan said on 04/17/12 at 10:51 pm Reply

    Love this letter, David. Beautiful.


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