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Elizabeth J. Colen, John Jodzio, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Sean Lovelace, and Mary Miller

The uncontainability of each of these remarkable collections published by Rose Metal Press suggests the exuberance of the flash fiction form itself, including the way in which, despite its small size, it pushes past its own borders and into the territory of something larger and impossible to confine.


"A wonderful range of voices comes at you from this collection of flash fictions with stories that haunt, that tell of grit and love and loss and longing with the kind of detail and patience that makes your teeth ache."

– Sherrie Flick, author of I Call This Flirting

"With a collection of collections like They Could No Longer Contain Themselves, you begin to get a feel for an entire generation of writers."

– Robert Shapard, coeditor of Sudden Fiction Latino

"What a fantastic collection. Wow! What emerges is the sense of the possibilities of compression and conviction, each piece complete in itself, connected to the whole."

– Randall Brown, author of Mad to Live


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They Could No Longer Contain Themselves

I Can No Longer Contain Myself


Today is July 5th, which means I’m am full stuffed on meats, salads of various potatoes and pastas, and America. It is morning. I am in my underwear, the after images of fireworks still dancing in my corneas. And, They Could No Longer Contain Themselves sitting next to me at my desk, waiting to be talked about, to talk to us, to be binged and purged.

Just look at that pretty little book over there, the cover a windswept barren, the quiet hue of blue, the tree stump of possible forest fire or maybe tired and newly-homed beaver, or newly stuffed, as beavers actually eat wood. Did you know that? I never knew if they actually feasted on trees, or just made their homes from it, but Wiki confirms they fill their bellies with it. Just imagine if we humans made our homes of what we fill our bellies with.

This month, I make my home of these words, and I hope you will come party with me.

Here’s a quick story about They Could No Longer Contain Themselves, what it is, how it came to be, straight from the fingers of its publishers:

In 2009, celebrity judge Sherrie Flick chose Sean Lovelace’s How Some People Like Their Eggs as the winner of our Third Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest. Flick said of the book, “Lovelace’s little stories seek out these big-guy concepts and bring them down like in an old movie filled with gangsters, trench coats, cigarettes, and tough-talking women with nice legs—using smart dialogue and wit.” Lovelace’s chapbook spoke to more than just Flick: By spring 2010, the run of 300 specialty letterpressed copies of Eggs was on the verge of selling out.

Around this same time we heard from our Fourth Annual Contest judge Dinty W. Moore that he’d chosen Mary Hamilton’s We Know What We Are as the 2010 winner. We were thrilled, but found ourselves loath to give up the other four finalists—Elizabeth J. Colen’s Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake, John Jodzio’s Do Not Touch Me Not Now Not Ever, Tim Jones-Yelvington’s Evan’s House and the Other Boys Who Live There, and Mary Miller’s Paper and Tassels—to other publishers. All five of the finalists that year stunned us with their precision and heart, their longing and skill. It was the most stylistically diverse group of finalists we’d ever had, and yet all the manuscripts hummed with the same kind of energy and deep humanness. We had to publish them.

And so we decided to bring the four finalists from our Fourth Annual Short Short Contest and the celebrated and sold-out winner of our third together under one cover.”

So there you have it. This little anthology of 5 chapbooks, brought to you simply because the ladies at Rose Metal Press simply could not stand to let someone else publish them; they wanted them for themselves, to bring them all to all of our selves.

And last night, while holding this book in my hand, turning it over and over, reading it page and page again, I realized one of the reasons I most like this book, beyond the incredible words inside: exposure.

I’m a victim of name recognition, I’ll admit it. When I first came upon the small press community a couple years ago, I knew no one, and it was perhaps one of the most exciting times of my life. I devoured book after book of authors unnamed to me. These new words invaded me and shaped me in ways I’ve not been shaped in years. They fed me, fed my own words, I grew in them like bones awash in milk.

But now, I’ve grown to know who I can trust. I harbor to names like Aubrey Hirsch, Matt Bell, Adam Robinson, xTx, and a couple/few dozen others with whom I feel I can trust to bring a thrill to my skin and a warmth to the belly of me with their words. I gravitate to these authors when I see their names in new issues of journals and reviews. This book contains a couple of those names: Sean Lovelace and Mary Miller. Tim Jones-Yelvington as well, though until now I had known and trusted him more as a person than as his words.

So of course, I still gravitate to them, see their work packaged together, and immediately think, “Yes!” click “Add to Cart!” Get this book in my hand, the tactile weight, the smooth gloss of cover, and ruffle of page. I readreadread.

I read first those I know and trust. We stand in something like a circle, sipping and talking and sipping and laughing. Sean is leaning against the counter, beer in hand. Mary smiles warm, her laughter coming out her eyes. Tim owns the room, Tim alight with feather and glitter, everyone notices Tim, wants to touch him, wants to see him shimmer. We talk and we catch up, we tell stories of what we have known since we last met, last shared words.

I become aware of these other couple of people invited to the party, Elizabeth Colen and John Jodzio, standing on the periphery, they sip their gin and tonics, their mint juleps. They wait politely for their turn to speak. And then, without warning they burst on to me, their words move and captivate, and I spend the evening with them, talking about daughters, monsters, mothers, warlocks, glaciers, and panty thieves. Spending the evening with them, reading them I found that same feeling of wonder and discovery I felt a couple years ago. The feeling of finding new voice, of making new friends at a party, that up all night talking and talking feeling.

I hope the same happens to you. Perhaps you snagged this book because like me you recognized Mary Miller, trusted her words to feel true and earnest on the page, and in doing so, at least 1 or 2 of these authors packaged alongside her work in this little number are authors completely new to you. I hope this book opens us all up to someone new, opens us all up to something new.

Let’s make some discoveries together. Let’s have a party. Let’s invite all our friends, and our friends’s friends, find people we don’t know, fresh faces awash in glow and drink. Let’s no longer contain ourselves. Let’s talk and talk.

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Let your voice be heard

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  1. Molly Gaudry said on 07/05/11 at 7:44 am Reply

    This is a wonderful post, Chris, and I can’t wait to hang out at this party. Thanks for the invitation! July is going to be great, I can feel it. I hope everyone can feel the excitement! Welcome to The Lit Pub, Rose Metal Press! Welcome to The Lit Pub, Elizabeth J. Colen, John Jodzio, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Sean Lovelace, and Mary Miller!


    Michael said on 07/05/11 at 11:40 am

    Strange but true: was reading Mary Miller’s collection “Big World” earlier this morning. Huh. Anyway, really happy to see her work is included!

    Chris Newgent said on 07/05/11 at 1:14 pm

    Man, that’s such a great collection. I bought that at AWP Denver a couple years ago and read the whole thing on the plane home to Indy. I couldn’t stop reading it.

  2. Tim Jones-Yelvington said on 07/05/11 at 5:01 pm Reply

    Thank you, Chris. It’s an honor to have our work included here.


    Molly Gaudry said on 07/05/11 at 5:20 pm

    Tim! I just want to say your website is fabulous!

    Chris Newgent said on 07/06/11 at 9:12 am

    Fabulous is the perfect word for that website. I don’t think I’d seen that yet. Freaking love it, Tim. Glad to feature your work here this month!

  3. Jordan Blum said on 07/05/11 at 6:32 pm Reply

    Awesome post. I’m happy to see my former Rosemont professor (who I still work with on flashfiction.net and Matter Press’ Journal of CCA) Randall Brown among the quoted writers.

    Also, I actually did an interview with Sean Lovelace a few months ago . . . check out it!

    Okay, enough personal promotion.

    I can’t wait to dive into this book.


  4. Kristina said on 07/05/11 at 11:49 pm Reply

    Um, yup. I will be buying this when the next paycheque comes in.


    Chris Newgent said on 07/06/11 at 2:45 pm

    Huzzah! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts about it!

  5. Laura said on 07/06/11 at 7:23 am Reply

    I am so glad this is your featured book of the month Christopher, it’s so full of gems that it’s a treasure chest.

    Also, that sounds like a party worth going to. Let’s throw it!


  6. Elizabeth J. Colen said on 07/06/11 at 10:51 am Reply

    We’ve just met, and yet you know my drink already. G&T, fresh lime. I think I’ll like this party.


    Chris Newgent said on 07/06/11 at 2:44 pm

    I was a bartender for a few years, and in that time learned to make a pretty solid G&T. Glad to have you here, Elizabeth. Fantastic words.

  7. Mike Young said on 07/06/11 at 1:15 pm Reply

    this is a great collection; diverse, emotional, surprising


    Chris Newgent said on 07/06/11 at 2:44 pm

    Agreed. Its diversity is perhaps one of my favorite things about it.

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