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Second Acts in American Lives: Flash Shorts by Ryan Ridge and Mel Bosworth

Second Acts in American Lives: Flash Shorts by Ryan Ridge and Mel Bosworth Second Acts in American Lives header banner

Second Acts in American Lives:
Flash Stories by Ryan Ridge & Mel Bosworth

Second Acts in American Lives cover artwork

“Short fiction from two masters of the form.”

Equal parts prose-poems, flash stories, riddles, and mythological prologues to the lives of spent Americans—struggling, murderous, born again, drug-addled, sexual, hopeful, despairing, soaring—this collection stands on the edge of genre definition and questions what it means to be at the cusp of living. Punchlines, plays on words, dad puns, and yo’ mama jokes straddle the saddle with deep metaphorical lessons on society today, making companions of dark humor and serious wit. A séance of poetics and politics, this collection of glimpses into the disheveled and desperate, the cerebral and celebrated, the gangly and glorious, conjures what it is to be American in a society as stupid as it is terrifying.

Illustrated by Jacob Heustis.

Content warnings: coming soon

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Perfectbound Trade Paperback $16.99

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Praise for Second Acts in American Lives

“From precocious Buddhas to out-of-control vehicles, Ridge and Bosworth will take you on their own unique, highly experimental but effectual journey. You can’t help but enjoy exploring the very short form with these two creative minds and marvel at how they bring out the best in each other.”
—Tara Lynn Masih,
Founding series editor of The Best Small Fictions

“Short fiction from two masters of the form.”

“Ranging from short to super-duper short, the prose-poetic stories in Ryan Ridge’s and Mel Bosworth’s Second Acts in American Lives zig and zag, fake and fade, keeping the reader guessing on every page, and the illustrations by Jacob Heustis are every bit as funny and surprising as the words they accompany. It’s a pinball machine of a book, full of bounce and light and crazy ricochets: sentences start, you don’t know where they’ll end up, and this dynamic unpredictability is what gives this collection its life and its victory.”
—Kathleen Rooney,
author of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

“A collection of wildly imaginative capsules of surrealist Americana. The short punchy pieces are chaotic enough to be funny and tragic enough to be heartbreaking.”
Preview Massachusetts Magazine

“Antic, exuberant, and full of surprise, almost every sentence ends on a note of provocative mystery, pointing toward the pregnant darkness where David Berman disappeared. These brief, jagged stories are punky, druggy, and beautifully poetic. They’ll take you on a warp-speed ramble through an America that’s died and come back and died again, getting stranger and punchier every time. Why fear the coming apocalypse if it’s this much fun?”
—David Leo Rice,
author of A Room in Dodge City

“Twenty things I want to say about Mel Bosworth and Ryan Ridge: 1.) Did Poetry write these men into being? 2.) Poetry was in a weird mood. 3.) They’re good, you should know. 4.) Like really, really good. 5.) Repeat winners of Sentence of the Year. 6.) Where do they get off? 7.) Where do they get on, for that matter? 8.) Can they show other writers the place? 9.) Scratch that last question. 10.) What I was meaning to say: there should be laws against these men. 11.) Or at least a temporary injunction. 12.) It’s like, Hold on! 13.) We need to catch our breaths! 14.) We need to unpretzel our minds! 15.) Breath nets. 16.) Mind. ... 17.) What? 18.) Look what you’ve done to me here. 19.) Just look. 20.) See what I mean?”
—Scott Garson,
author of Is That You, John Wayne?

“Swallow this book like it’s the last cold Michelob Ultra. Read it, do a little dance, then take it out back and shoot it. Take down this book like it’s the last thing you will ever do in this life, because I’m telling you, it most likely will be. Be with this book, and I mean be with it. Is it poetry? Is it prose? Who the hell cares. Bosworth and Ridge are great literary beasts by themselves, to be read often and carefully. Together they have become one wild fucking animal. These are the real bits of us, the hidden bits and the exposed, laid out in one stunning sentence after another. I’ll always keep Second Acts in American Lives close by. I cried laughing. I have never read anything like it.”
—Ryan MacDonald,
author of The Observable Characteristics of Organisms

About Second Acts in American Lives

• Fiction, Flash Stories, Hybrid Prose Poems
• Published by Alternating Current Press
• 5” x 8” Perfectbound Trade Paperback
• Cream Paper, 178 Pages
• Print ISBN-13: 978-1-946580-03-0
• Print ISBN-10: 1-946580-03-1
• First Edition: March 6, 2018
Permalink | Short URL: tinyurl.com/secondacts
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Images for public use for Second Acts in American Lives

Click to view / download high-resolution front cover in: [PNG], [JPG].

Click to view / download high-resolution full jacket in: [PNG], [JPG].

Click to view / download photo of author Ryan Ridge by Sarah Lyon in [JPG].

Click to view / download photo of author Mel Bosworth by Christy Crutchfield in [JPG].

Click to view / download photo of illustrator Jacob Heustis by Elizabeth Kramer in [JPG].

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About Ryan Ridge and Mel Bosworth

RYAN RIDGE is the author of three previous books, including the hybrid novel, American Homes (University of Michigan Press, 2015), which was the Michigan Library Publishing Club’s inaugural book club pick. His work has appeared in Tin House Flash Fridays, Mississippi Review, Potomac Review, Lumina, NERVE, DIAGRAM, Passages North, Salt Hill, and elsewhere. He’s the winner of the 2016 Italo Calvino Prize in Fabulist Fiction (judged by Jonathan Lethem) and his chapbook, Weird Weeks, cowritten with Mel Bosworth, won the Editors’ Prize from The Cupboard Pamphlet and will be published in the fall of 2018. He’s an assistant professor at Weber State University and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He edits the literary magazine, Juked.
MEL BOSWORTH is the author of the novel, Freight, and the poetry chapbook, Every Laundromat in the World. He lives in Western Massachusetts.

About Jacob Heustis

JACOB HEUSTIS is an artist living in Louisville, Kentucky. Since 2004, he has exhibited at Swanson Contemporary, the Green Building Gallery, Land of Tomorrow, Zephyr Gallery, Actor’s Theatre, Brown Theatre, Kentucky School of Art, Hite Art Institute, The Speed Art Museum, Cressman Center for Visual Arts, Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, and 21C Bentonville, Durham, and Cincinnati. Recent work has appeared in New American Paintings.

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