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Lynne Barrett

Carnegie Mellon Short Fiction Series

Carnegie Mellon
2011 • 120 pp. 6 x 9"
Short Stories - Single Author / Florida

$17.95 Paperback, 978-0-88748-543-5

“Barrett portrays adult lives with minimal flourishes and a powerful command of setting. Florida is electric with the tension of 'all that can happen' —hurricanes, sinkholes, and a boom-and... [continued in Reviews below]”—Publishers Weekly

A collection of short stories by Lynne Barrett.

In Magpies, Lynne Barrett's characters move through the past decade's glitter and darkness. From the Internet's fragmented pages to a gossip columnist's sweet poison to the ABCs of a hurricane season, these tales explore story form and storytelling as a means of connection, betrayal, and survival for characters who learn, sometimes too late, the value of what's grasped and what's lost.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

"Barrett portrays adult lives with minimal flourishes and a powerful command of setting. Florida is electric with the tension of 'all that can happen' —hurricanes, sinkholes, and a boom-and-bust history. It becomes as eerie as it is richly imagined, whether stories take place in an Art Deco building or a gas station. One of the year's finer university press offerings, the collection is especially noteworthy for 'The Noir Boudoir,' an atmospheric tale of unsettling realizations and the ways past events shadow the present."—Publishers Weekly

"Lynne Barrett belongs in the top tier of short-story writers in America today. Her unforgettable characters, poker-face wit, and sly plots make for an intensely enjoyable experience. The title story should be snapped up by anthologies. Barrett's male characters are every bit as believable as her female characters, and the breadth of detail is both natural and mind-expanding. You want to read her work: it's hilarious-funny and sophisticated-funny and moving-funny, and withal shines a clarity that comes from the subtle beauty of her sentences."—Kelly Cherry, author of The Woman Who

"It is entirely impossible to predict what you're going to get when you start a Lynne Barrett story: a taut tale of adultery and murder, a wry evocation of romance amid the bubble, a gossip columnist who spits toads. What you do know is that you'll keep reading—for the vibrant prose, the keen insights, and the remarkable depth of feeling. Magpies is a stone cold triumph."—Steve Almond, author of Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life

From the Book:

Lightning: I wake to the flash, see Carlos’ clothes, the surface of a man thrown over the chair. He vanishes. I keep my eyes open, trying to make out his real body beside me in the dark, and wait for the thunder. Earlier, in the restaurant, we saw the forecast, lines of storms across the state. The Fort Lauderdale station lavishes technology on its star meteorologist. He has a computerized map table where with a touch he can go close, showing neighborhoods as the radar crosses them, green with orange centers of rain. With each sweep the display jumps, tracking the storm cells’ advances, how far they travel in a minute. On the edge of dream I picture us as the radar sweeps by, showing our cool blue shoulders and hot crotches, unmistakably new lovers.

The thunder unfolds, still miles west.

Carlos turns away, into the pillow, and groans.

I prop myself up. The room is resolving into shapes and layers. I look appreciatively at his leg’s dark curve on top of the sheet. I’m trying to make sure I enjoy this, the good part. Too often I have peeked ahead and seen this one isn’t going to last, like ruining a book by reading the final page. He’s thirty-seven and never married, there’s undoubtedly something wrong with him, but why do I need to know that now? Anyway, there’s something wrong with all of us.

--from "One Hippopotamus"


Winner of the Florida Book Award Gold Medal (2011)

LYNNE BARRETT's work has appeared in Miami Noir, A Dixie Christmas, Delta Blues, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Apalachee Review, Saw Palm, the Southern Women's Review and many other anthologies and magazines. Magpies is her third collection of short stories. She has received the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best mystery story from the Mystery Writers of America and fellowships from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts. With her husband and son, she lives in Miami. She teaches at Florida International University and edits The Florida Book Review. More information can be found at

Click here for author's website.

Sun, 12 Aug 2018 13:37:00 -0500