Black Lawrence Press

True Ash

Microchips that don’t know when to stop, pop culture clones poised to take over the planet, a mysterious burial in a popular park, candy cigarettes wreathed in sugary ash. In these interlocked short stories, Elizabeth J. Colen and Carol Guess conjure characters guided by instinct but misguided by technology, longing for intimacy but propelled by desire. Taken together, these stories detail the spectrum of human loss and describe the rise and fall of a fictitious Seattle company governed by unruly appetites, a world of glass windows where privacy comes with a price.

Cover art for True Ash provided by Corinne Botz. Visit Corinne online at


  • Remember when you crawled into bed, pulled the covers over your head, and devoured a book cover to cover? True Ash will bring you to that edge, with a side of whiskey, a hand in the bottomless candy dish, a lover next to a lover next to Betty Crocker or a dead ringer for Taylor Swift. You will emerge questioning what is/isn’t, a candy cigarette poised on your lip, as you revel in the collaborative lyrical genius of Colen and Guess.

    --Natasha Kochicheril Moni, author of The Cardiologist’s Daughter and Lay Down Your Fleece
  • Sensual, haunting; askew to reality in a way that unsettles. I love these stories.

    --Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties: Stories
  • So much is packed into True Ash: love, loss, danger, desire…and especially the danger of desire itself. The characters in these linked stories are plagued by an “endless stream of wanting,” and the book is by turns sexy and scary as the characters prove again and again that they are as capable of destruction as they are of intimacy. Although they hunger for human connection, they move across a rotating stage of semi-magical worlds dominated by a kind of rogue technology that seems designed to keep them apart. But they keep trying, in stories that examine everything from corporate culture to environmental degradation to art brokerage. What is most beautiful in this book of much beauty is how each story exists as a beacon of hope, connecting to readers through gorgeous language that evokes everything we most love and fear.

    --Kelly Magee, author of With Animal and The Neighborhood

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Elizabeth Colen

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Carol Guess

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