Publication Date: November 2016ISBN: 978-1-62557-942-3
If O’Conner, Mattheissen, Danielewski, and Saunders got together to play Exquisite Corpse, they might produce something akin to Beitelman’s Communion but with the startling control of language of a poet. These twenty paired narrative artifacts are part flash, part poetry, part traditional short story, peeling layers of a world of grace, absurdity, and the long complicated effort to create meaning in the self and in relation to others in our familial and cultural constellations. Time, place, landscapes are all elements, but so, too, are the simple issues of the body, like our need for sustenance: a peeled orange, hand-made crab cakes, blood. Characters consecrate this living, our rituals, liturgies, survivals, re-enactments, and transmute the wounds that make us who we are.
--Laura McCullough, author of Jersey Mercy
I don’t know that I’ve read a stranger, more unsettling book than T.J. Beitelman’s Communion. And I mean that in the best way possible. At times Beitelman’s stories remind me of those of Raymond Carver, the characters here so often so far away from one another. Yet turn the page, and Beitelman pulls off a kind of lyrical magic, and I am reminded of the lush, surreal poems of W.S. Merwin. From the first cold bite of an orange to the final communion of blood and crab cake, these stories linger in the mouth, stay with you long after you finish.
--Joe Wilkins, author of The Mountain and the Fathers and When We Were Birds
TJ Beitelman is a writer and teacher living in Birmingham, Alabama. He’s published a novel, John the Revelator, and a collection of short fiction, Communion, as well as two collections of poetry: In Order to Form a More Perfect Union and Americana, all from Black Lawrence Press. His stories and poems have appeared widely in literary magazines, and he’s received fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham. He taught writing and literature at Virginia Tech, where he earned an M.A. in English, and at the University of Alabama, where he earned an M.F.A. in creative writing and also edited Black Warrior Review. He currently directs the creative writing program at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham. He can be found on-line at www.tjbman.com.