Praise for the work
"Fowler possesses a relatively bright and affectionate vision of mystical worlds, and this “collector’s edition with bonus stories” of her original 2010 collection reads a bit like the late, great Carol Emshwiller — funny chronicles of fantastic events in the lives of unextraordinary people. Its best stories find clear emotional pleasure in exploring fantastic or futuristic events."
Scott Bradfield, New York Times Book Review
"Fowler’s descriptions are exquisite, and her stories absorbing. Her fabulist elements intertwine with reality to create allegorical narratives that expose deeper truths about men and women, about humanity’s common fixations. Her heroines are strong, but searching and consistently surprising. Fowler's stories are like spells: Through words alone, beautiful imagery, tremendous substance, and poignant feeling become palpably real."
Savannah Schroll Guz, author of American Soma
"Sometimes, just sometimes, from the scrolls of work I read online, I stumble across a story different enough to make me remember a name. Heather Fowler's such a writer. I encountered her work a few years ago online. It's almost impossible not to. Fresh, vivid, her prose is fluid. It flows like a river. Never static. The work moves characters and perceptions. The heart is revealed and swept away. A single can story can be strange, beautiful, moving, dark, then funny. Stories that may seem quirky on the surface of subject matter have layers and deceptive depth…Such fearlessness is reminiscent of Joyce Carol Oates, yet the work is surprising moving and full of humour.
Angela Readman, The Short Review
“Heather Fowler is Kafka in drag, an American Marquez… What really wins the reader over, though, is the way she tells the story.”
Bonnie ZoBell, Gently Read Literature
“Fowler’s writing itself is beautiful—her sentences are as varied as her characters, and the images she carefully paints echo Francis Bacon’s statements about beauty: there’s nothing pretty that isn’t at least slightly bizarre in some way. This strangeness never hinders Fowler’s work, and instead, increases the world she so vividly introduces us to, making her plots more believable, and just that much more fun to read. Her language doesn’t flow, but laps, much like Minnow Lake, at the reader’s feet, slowly drawing them into her sphere…”
Stephanie Johnson, Ampersand Review
"Magical realism at its finest. Great work by Heather Fowler. Recommended."
Kathy Fish, author of Wild Life
“Common emotions that come forth as literal components in the characters’ lives are too good to miss. The author’s fabulist style, both sarcastic and charitable, is one to be admired.
Melanie Page, American Book Review
“It’s a dazzling collection of magical realism, from boys made of clay and girls made of razor blades, to Philip Dick-esque replicants, to vampires and heroic parrots.”
Jen Michalski, author of Close Encounters
“The stories in Suspended Heart have made for some of the most twisted, exciting reading I have had in a very long time. They are read with a zealousness and momentum that is like a solid relationship, improving with age and with each re-read. I find these stories to take the idea of love and blast away any cliché notions that love is an ordinary thing. Bitter hearts will be relieved, hardened hearts will soften, and dangerous hearts will finally use caution. Each story is fresh and crisp and offers a new angle on the age-old ideas of romance and sex. The themes of lust and courageous love are never dulled by overly dramatic tales or melodramatic fantasies. The voice Fowler uses is real, and in my opinion, these stories are some of the best tales of love and its consuming ideas that have been written in many years."
Zach Fishel, Girls With Insurance
BEAUTIFUL APE GIRL BABY
"With a complex character who casually quotes Audre Lorde, believes in the Russian expression toska, and spouts wisdom as only an outsider can, Beautiful is a strange figure. She’s a bibliophile loaded with insights, yet naive. She’s childish, awkward, unintentionally funny, honest, and despite her extremes, occasionally a normal, hormonal teen. The unique blend of chutzpah and vulnerability turns a wild premise into a moving tale of learning to live in the world."
"Unique and hilarious! I laughed my ass off."
—Lauren Becker, author of If I Would Leave Myself Behind
"Heather Fowler is a magician—and she proves it once again with this rollicking and wonderfully subversive debut novel. Like her acclaimed short fiction, Beautiful Ape Girl Baby is bursting with energy and wit, humor and heart, cutting social commentary and evocative emotional depth. It’s the kind of book that burns, leaves a mark, and reminds you of the possibilities of fiction."
—Andrew Roe, author of The Miracle Girl
With equal portions of Bildungsroman quest and existential discourse between humanism and naturalism, Heather Fowler's Beautiful Ape Girl Baby is darkly and deftly comedic. Through Beautiful’s over-eloquent and self-indulgent narrative voice, Fowler gives us a great new tragicomic character confronted with an unappeasable sadness of the soul--or her toska--that reaches beyond the confines of the real.
—Christopher Allen, author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire) and managing editor of SmokeLong Quarterly
"A dark gleaming star of a novel--wild, visceral, yet full of innocence. Fowler never fails to make the strange beautiful, and all that we're told should be beautiful deliciously strange."
—Angela Readman, Winner of the Rubery Book Award
"With Beautiful Ape Girl Baby, Heather Fowler has created what only she can do- spun the 'road trip' tale into a feminist, creative, can’t-put-down, genius re-telling. There is no one out there that writes like Fowler and you haven’t met a heroine like this one ever before. At turns hilarious, moving, and jaw-dropping, you will remember this book long after you hesitantly finish the final sentence."
—Jennifer Pastiloff, Author and Founder, Girl Power: You Are Enough movement
"Fowler has written something impossible and brilliant: Confederacy of Dunces meets Mighty Joe Young meets Pantagruel meets Heathers. I have never read anything like this book, and I'm always thankful for the few times as a reader I get to say that. So thankful for the funny, fierce, feminist words of Heather Fowler."
—Amber Sparks, author of The Unfinished World and Other Short Stories and the collection May We Shed These Human Bodies
“What happens when magical realism meets feminism? Heather Fowler’s tour de force of a novel, that’s what.
Although drawing inspiration from a rich tradition that includes Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carolyn Forché, and more recently, Emily Capettini, Ms. Fowler has created an fully realized imaginative world that is entirely her own. At turns darkly humorous and deadly serious, this novel offers an incisive and powerful presentation of gender as socially constructed, an arbitrary and chance assemblage of cultural norms. As the book unfolds, Ms. Fowler harnesses the resources of the literary arts to build, piece by piece, a more just society. Heather Fowler is a writer to watch.”
—Kristina Marie Darling, author of Scorched Altar: Selected Poems & Stories 2007-2014
“In Beautiful Ape Girl Baby Heather Fowler has crafted a new, loopy, adult Grimm’s Fairy Tale. As audacious as all her fiction, this new book cuts a little deeper; its cleverness carries wit, fancy, and a searching, searing romanticism, all as lightly as a basket for grandma. There’s love, there’s conflict, there’s bittersweet romance, there’s magic.
Heather Fowler is an enchantress. I’d follow her ape baby anywhere.”
—Corey Mesler, author of Memphis Movie and Robert Walker
“With so much fiction being derivative these days, what Fowler has done with Beautiful Ape Girl Baby is truly sui generis. The life of Beautiful is both a romp through the life of an unconventional heroine (and at times anti-heroine), trying to be herself in a world that is often at odds with her desires and sensibilities--and an instruction manual on the rewards of being true to oneself at all costs. While Beautiful's antics are many and she often finds herself in the throes of the "toska," she possesses wit, charm and a heart full of scar tissue, but is always, in her own, way triumphant. It's a wild romp and well worth it!”
—Michelle Reale, author of The Legacy of the Sidelong Glance and If All They Had Were Their Bodies
"To read Heather Fowler’s Beautiful Ape Girl Baby is to be invited into the lucid dream of a brilliant mind. It might be easier to call this magic realism or even a modern fable, but there is something else at play here that, for me, is not captured in those phrases. There is the beauty of nightmares in this book, with the tender, profound truth of humanity at its core."
—Grant Bailie, author of Cloud 8, Mortarville, and TomorrowLand.
“The stories in Heather Fowler’s Elegantly Naked In My Sexy Mental Illness span time and space, sanity and insanity, our dreams and our nightmares. From Renaissance Italy to the French Revolution to the modern dangers of Facebook stalkers, Fowler’s characters explore all of the pleasures and pains of love, that “monster…forged from both hope and desire.” Fowler takes risks; each story is a spellbinding journey. I can’t think of a short story collection I’m more excited to recommend this year.”
—Shaindel Beers, author of A Brief History of Time and The Children’s War and Other Poems
“Heather Fowler writes stories that need to be written. Unabashedly ripping open the emotional turmoil that continues to plague the lives of men and women, Fowler crafts fantastical tales that reveal the underbelly of our pains and desperation. She’s the heir of Angela Carter, caressing words like lovers, making the unreal real.”
—Paula Bomer, author of Nine Months and Inside Madeleine
“In Elegantly Naked In My Sexy Mental Illness, Heather Fowler draws us into characters buzzing with internal lives that feel eerily familiar, as though she is showing us a piece of ourselves. What is chilling—and addictive—about her writing is how often those internal lives are ones of disorder. Her renderings remind us of the sanity within insanity, and they do indeed reveal the elegance—and sexiness—of the seamy underbelly of what it means to be human, of the most private parts of our bodies and brains.”
—Ming Holden, author of The Survival Girls
“The characters in Heather Fowler’s Elegantly Naked In My Sexy Mental Illness are so vulnerable and full of yearning that I read the collection with my heart in my throat. Their lives of quiet desperation are rendered with such depth and grace that they seem to haunt the stories they inhabit even while they live and breathe inside them. Fowler is truly a master of her craft.”
—Rebecca Kanner, author of Sinners and the Sea
“The characters in Heather Fowler’s fiction are strange and magnificent, sad and strong, trapped and independent, adjusted and not. In other words, they are real. The sheer variety of stories in Elegantly Naked In My Sexy Mental Illness is striking and the pure athletic grace with which each is told is testament to Fowler’s willingness to stretch and experiment. This is an author with a voluminous bag of tools. She is daring and audacious in all the right ways. There is a delight to her surprises, her wonderments. Savor her titles, which, emblematic of her range, are pithy, mordant, cerebral, playful and ingenious: ‘Giant Balloon Animal Tragedies,’ ‘Good Country. People’ (with its conscious echoes of Flannery O’Connor, an author to whom Fowler can be favorably compared), ‘Speak to Me with Tenderness, Howard Sun.’ Heather Fowler is adept at decoding the human predicament. One yarn begins, ‘Listen, I am telling you a story.’ So you lean closer and, when you do, you can feel the author’s warm breath on your cheek.”
—Corey Mesler, author of Diddy-Wah-Diddy: A Beale Street Suite
PEOPLE WITH HOLES
Readers who admire any of the finest writers in the genre (Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Franz Kafka, Toni Morrison, and Salman Rushdie) should enjoy the flights of fancy within this book, and also be able to confront its darker journeys.
In Fowler’s worlds, men take from women what they haven’t necessarily given; the women enact successful and failed revenges, they are whole and sometimes mean and sometimes hurt and sometimes win, but they are present and trying on their innate power, recognizing it, in ways that sometimes benefit them and sometimes send them reeling into newly painful places, lit by the new light of transparency and rupture.
These are forcefully told tales. Fowler is a fearless writer. Her characters make decisions that make readers uncomfortable. This must be what it feels like to be liberated.
—Necessary Fiction review by Jess Stoner
THIS TIME, WHILE WE'RE AWAKE
"It may seem incongruous to apply the word 'pleasurable' to the dystopian visions conjured by Heather Fowler in This Time, While We're Awake. The sixteen stories in the collection feature technology run amok, ecological devastation, a smattering of horrible deaths. There's no doubt that the subject matter is disturbing.
But after my initial read-through, one of the first notes I jotted down was 'breath of fresh air.' The stories, interwoven with subtle critiques of rampant consumerism, class inequality, and violence against women, do what good literature should do: make you step back and look at your world with a more critical eye. So let's call them 'refreshingly disturbing.'"
—Rosalie Morales Kearns, author of Kingdom of Women
"Heather Fowler's This Time, While We're Awake makes its way from one dystopia to another, climbs them like fences, and the problem is they're barbed wire, so it's torn cloth and shredded flesh the whole way. Hiders, breeders, love drugs and practice babies, muse boxes and zombie picnics: they all serve to showcase Fowler's finely honed sense of what is worth saving, what we can let fall, and how hard we must work to survive our worlds intact."
—Roy Kesey, author of Any Deadly Thing
"Where Carson McCullers meets Flannery O'Connor for modern times, Heather Fowler updates us with a 'contemporary macabre,' placing us at the intersection of emotion-meets-Cyborgian-exercise in procreation, leaving us alert and contemplative of real-world effects for technology's ever increasing integration with human behavior...In This Time, While We're Awake, the heart lays bare its own dark recesses--and the ways in which we've attempted to place our dark parts beyond ourselves. Fowler's prose illustrates the refined sensibility of a poet; these stories move without overbearing, tempt without cliché, and ask us to dig deeper into a wired, very human world we call the 'present' so that we can act on the future now."
—Amy King, author of The Missing Museum and I Want to Make You Safe