ALL THE WORDS
Winner, Grassic Short Novel Prize
Evening Street Press, 2015
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“Maria Brandt’s novella All the Words is an artfully constructed collage of truth and memory, a wonderfully poetic story about the traumas that bind us to ourselves and each other. The simplicity of her language juxtaposed against the deceptive safety of a familiar landscape and the complications of childhood sorrow and denial produce an effect not unlike that of being on a speeding train, the same train her main character rides with her father as they struggle to confront what they can no longer avoid. Brandt is masterful at describing the paradoxical human desire to both erase and embrace the past in order to live more fully with and in spite of it.”
– Cathy Smith, author of The Glory Walk
“The characters in Maria Brandt’s heart-wise and home-wise All the Words struggle, each in their own way, to articulate all the necessary words. For in this lyrically lush and beautifully cadenced novella about a family’s love and loss, words are, paradoxically, precious and scarce. Sentences start but sputter out; mouths go mute; memories, both allusive and elusive, tease then disappear, only to reappear as fragmented textual ghosts, italicized and erupting throughout the course of this family’s journey–a journey from trauma to understanding, and, ultimately, to a kind of acceptance. Such a story arc is easy to describe, but painstakingly difficult to render dramatically and truthfully, but Brandt pulls it off with élan and intelligence and, best of all, the instincts of a natural storyteller. Read this short novel and feel what I felt: utterly renewed.”
– Joseph Salvatore, author of To Assume a Pleasing Shape
“In Maria Brandt’s All the Words, memory fuses with the present as a young woman journeys home to Long Island to confront the secrets and stories that haunted her transition into adolescence. Jane’s lens on the past is prismatic, splintering events into shards that she gradually and suspensefully tries to reassemble, even as the characters’ lives resist mending. Brandt’s lyrical and disorienting narrative mimics the fugue-like state of children leaving childhood, mapping anew a world they once felt at home in.”
– Suzanne Matson, author of The Tree-Sitter
The Kidnapper, Short Fiction, Santa Fe Quarterly (2020)
But the fern is gone. He sees in its place the stain left by its pot and a note crudely assembled with letters cut out from magazines.
Bob and Joe, Short Fiction, Coal Hill Review (2019)
Okay, he thinks, I may have looped but I’ve got water, I’ll find my way. He recognizes a small patch of wildflowers and climbing ivy and can’t decide if he’s comforted or disturbed by their familiarity.
Frances, Short Fiction, Cleaver (2018)
She knows fabric softener contains toxic chemicals like ethanol and camphor that deteriorate a person’s neuropathways, and others that cause pancreatic cancer or fatal edema, and she berates herself for knowing this but not putting two and two together about her missing periods.
The Portal, Short Fiction, River and South Review (2018)
I thought about Joey while I watched those ants and about how he talked dirt about all those immigrants, and I tried not to mind that, not really, and for a minute he sparkled again.
Manhattanhenge, Short Fiction, Prime Number Magazine (2017)
The young man with the fancy hat sits on the steel box and is quiet for a moment. Samantha thinks she can hear cars moving, but she’s not sure. Suddenly, the whole city seems as if it were made with popsicle sticks.
Whatever Was Alive, Flash Fiction, Mom Egg Review (2016)
Holding her breath, she lifts the cardboard and crawls as steadily as she can out of the closet into the attic’s main room, where light from the windows spills over piles to keep and piles to throw away forever.
A Promise, Flash Fiction, The Lindenwood Review (2015)
Pulling the sheet tight around my body, I closed my eyes and tried to imagine my way back home, climbing back down the stairs of his building, stumbling across the street to the train. It didn’t work.
Against the Floor, Flash Fiction, Arts and Letters (2015)
She lay on her back and looked at the ceiling, then closed her eyes until she felt herself drift like a big pink feather into water lit from below by circus lights. Eyes still closed, she moved her arms and imagined the water, cool and clean, and the sky a canopy of three-ringed stars.
Flight, Short Fiction, upstreet (2015)
Vito discovered a hard-boiled egg under a pile of shoes in the back of his grandmother’s closet. He’d been drawn by the smell, which reached him through her closed bedroom door.
Dogs, Flash Fiction, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts (2015)
When he rolled over and held her and whispered something she couldn’t hear, she closed her eyes and thought about all the dogs that had stopped barking, and the quiet that would settle into the trees before morning.
Rain, Short Fiction, Rock & Sling: A Journal of Witness (2014)
He thinks about planting tomato seeds and listening to the sounds of nightfall. He thinks about all the things he loves that he never told anyone he loves, like lavender and butterflies and the way the moon casts shadows over their yard. He lies on his back and listens to his bike pedals spin.