Songs for the Deaf | John Henry Fleming



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A little desert town gets a sexual charge from a crash-landed alien. A dysfunctional family tries to summit Everest with “discount Sherpas” and yakloads of emotional baggage. A teen messiah emerges from a game of 3-on-3. The stories in John Henry Fleming’s Songs for the Deaf, the first story collection by the “marvelously inventive” and “winningly satiric” author of The Legend of the Barefoot Mailman, put an intimate and modern spin on the American tall tale.


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“Songs for the Deaf is a joyful, deranged, endlessly surprising book of stories that defy easy categorization. Fleming’s prose is glorious music; his rhythms will get into your bloodstream, and his images will sink into your dreams. Thank you, Burrow Press, for bringing John Fleming’s radioactively imaginative stories to us.”

–Karen Russell
, author of Swamplandia!


“The extent of John Henry Fleming’s literary range is unmistakable…”

~Karen Winters Schwartz, for New York Journal of Books


“Fans of George Saunders or Donald Barthelme will (not might; will) enjoy John Henry Fleming’s Songs for the Deaf.”

~Orlando Weekly


“Fleming is a whimsical, imaginative, often funny writer, but even his most outlandish stories can sneak up on you with insight into the human condition.”

~Colette Bancroft, for the Tampa Bay Times


“[Fleming’s] stories read like modern-day folk tales that have only now been discovered and transcribed.”

~Sarah Suksiri, for Necessary Fiction


“All music worth playing is worth playing loud, and the volume on Songs for the Deaf should be turned all the way up. John Henry Fleming riffs on renegade cloud readers, drifters seeking out their long-lost midwives, and random floating girls. In one sublime lick he intones a high-school basketball game as the Lord’s Prayer. I’ve long admired his work, and this new collection—perfectly in touch with our fantastic times—is well worth blowing out a speaker or two.”

~Jeff Parker, author of Ovenman and The Taste of Penny


“These stories somehow stay firmly on their tracks through wonderful narrative hairpin turns, the sentences sure in their gait, and as with most satisfying stories, it’s hard to tell whether the characters have guided themselves to the serendipitous endings they find, or whether they’ve been secretly dragged there by the superb skill of the storyteller.”

~John Brandon, author of A Million Heavens and Citrus County


“The way Fleming juxtaposes humor with affliction is part of what makes Songs for the Deaf so enjoyable. Rather than detracting from one another, the comedy and tragedy are amplified. This happens within stories, but also through the collection’s arrangement, with heartbreaking stories standing side-by-side with laugh fests.”

~Thomas Michael Duncan, for PANK


“Traumatic events in their lives lead some characters to redemption, others to extinction. Skillful choice of language, dark humor, and the occasional integration of fantastic elements ensure enjoyment. These strong stories will appeal to fans of literary writing and short stories.”

~Ellen Loughran, for Booklist


“Where Fleming truly excels is in the briefest story, “A Charmed Life,” which traces a lovable loser protagonist’s travels with straight-faced sincerity, showing what a skilled writer can accomplish in just a few short pages.”

~Publishers Weekly


“Through Fleming’s mastery of storytelling and poetic prose style, the reader is immersed in a wonderful world of wit and imagination straddling misfortune and comedy.”

~B.A. Varghese, for Prick of the Spindle


“The range of characters—aliens, bigfoot look-alikes, cloud readers, floating girls—lends itself to satire, creating a new mythology out of crises of faith. Most importantly, though, these stories are fun.”

~Brenna Dixon, for Ploughshares blog


Songs for the Deaf reveals some of Fleming’s influences–Franz Kafka, Italo Calvino, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez… It’s a fun, all-over-the-place mix.”

~Ryan G. Van Cleave, for SCENE magazine


“Songs for the Deaf that will take you on a journey of emotionally stimulating events.”

~Jim Liston, for Tulsa Book Review


New and Notable Book Selection: UVA Magazine


John Henry Fleming is the author of The Legend of the Barefoot Mailman, a novel, and Fearsome Creatures of Florida, a literary bestiary, and The Book I Will Write, a serial novel-in-emails. His short stories have appeared in journals such as McSweeney’s, the North American Review, Mississippi Review, Fourteen Hills, and Carve, and have been anthologized in 100{f601acc48c7c49652e30f2fab106e7de4a69edf8d5e7b04da5e5a3c80b338d5d} Pure Florida Fiction and in The Future Dictionary of America. His awards include a Literature Fellowship from the State of Florida. He has a PhD in Creative Writing from The University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and is the founding editor of Saw Palm: florida literature and art.