Episode 156: Small Odysseys

AWM Author Talks
AWM Author Talks
Episode 156: Small Odysseys

This week, contributing authors Jac Jemc, Juan Martinez, Joe Meno, and Luis Alberto Urrea discuss their work in the collection Small Odysseys: Selected Shorts Presents 35 New Short Stories. This conversation originally took place May 15, 2022 and was recorded live at the American Writers Festival.


About Small Odysseys:

A must-have for any lover of literature, Small Odysseys sweeps the reader into the landscape of the contemporary short story, featuring never-before-published works by many of our most preeminent authors as well as up-and-coming superstars.

On their journey through the book, readers will encounter long-ago movie stars, a town full of dandelions, and math lessons from Siri. They will attend karaoke night, hear a twenty-something slacker’s breathless report of his failed recruiting by the FBI, and travel with a father and son as they channel grief into running a neigh­borhood bakery truck. They will watch the Greek goddess Persephone encounter the end of the world, and witness another apocalypse through a series of advertise­ments for a touchless bidet. And finally, they will meet an aging loner who finds courage and resilience hidden in the most unexpected of places—the next generation.

Published in partnership with beloved literary radio program and live show Selected Shorts in honor of its thirty-fifth anniversary, this collection of thirty-five stories captures its spirit in print for the first time.

About the authors:

Jac Jemc is the author of the novels Total Work of ArtMy Only Wife, winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award; The Grip of It; and the short-story collections A Different Bed Every Time and False Bingo, winner of the Chicago Review of Books Award for Fiction and finalist for the Story Prize. Jemc currently teaches creative writing at UC–San Diego.

Juan Martinez is the author of the short-story collection Best Worst American, winner of the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award. His work has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, including Glimmer TrainMcSweeney’sTriQuarterlyConjunctionsNorton’s Sudden Fiction Latino: Short-Short Stories from the United States and Latin America, and The Perpetual Engine of Hope: Stories Inspired by Iconic Vegas Photographs.

Joe Meno is the author of seven novels: Marvel and a WonderOffice GirlThe Great Perhaps, The Boy Detective FailsHairstyles of the DamnedHow the Hula Girl Sings, and Tender as Hellfire. His short story collections are Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir and Demons in the Spring. His short fiction has been published in McSweeney’sOne StorySwinkLITTriQuarterlyOther Voices, and Gulf Coast, and have been broadcast on NPR.

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his landmark work of nonfiction The Devil’s HighwayLuis Alberto Urrea is the bestselling author of the novels The Hummingbird’s DaughterInto the Beautiful NorthQueen of America, and most recently, The House of Broken Angels, as well as the story collection The Water Museum, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist. He has won the Lannan Literary Award, an Edgar Award, and a 2017 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, among many other honors.

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