The Odditorium

The Odditorium

by Melissa Pritchard

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O, The Oprah Magazine “Title to Pick Up Now”& Book of the Week
San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
Library Journal Best Stories Collection of the Year

“Emotionally rich.” —New York Times

“Ambitious, lush and even thrilling.” —Los Angeles Times

“Ripping good yarns.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“The stories in this strange and original collection bend genres—horror, mystery, Western—into wondrous new shapes.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

In each of these eight lyrical and baroque tales, Melissa Pritchard transports readers into spine-tingling milieus that range from the astounding realm of Robert LeRoy Ripley’s “odditoriums” to the courtyard where Edgar Allan Poe once played as a child. Whether she is setting the famed figures of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, including Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull, against the real, genocidal history of the American West, or contrasting the luxurious hotel where British writer Somerset Maugham stayed with the modern-day brothels of India, her stories illuminate the many ways history and architecture exert powerful forces upon human consciousness.

Melissa Pritchard is a Flannery O’Connor, Janet Heidinger Kafka, and Carl Sandburg award-winning author whose previous short fiction collections were New York Times Notable Book and Editors’ Choice selections. She lives in Arizona.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781934137475
Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
Publication date: 01/10/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
File size: 803 KB

About the Author

Melissa Pritchard is the author of eight books of fiction, including the novel Palmerino and the story collection The Odditorium, as well as the essay collection A Solemn Pleasure (forthcoming from Bellevue Literary Press in 2015). Among other honors, her books have received the Flannery O’Connor, Janet Heidinger Kafka, and Carl Sandburg awards and two of her short fiction collections were New York Times Notable Book and Editors’ Choice selections. Pritchard has worked as a journalist in Afghanistan, India, and Ethiopia, and her nonfiction has appeared in various publications, including O, The Oprah Magazine, Arrive, Chicago Tribune, and Wilson Quarterly. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

An O, The Oprah Magazine Title to Pick Up Now & Book of the Week

A San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book

“Emotionally rich.” —New York Times

“Weird and wonder-filled.” —Albuquerque Journal

“Display[s] the whimsy and intelligence of a writer at the height of her powers.” —

“Pritchard polishes the strange and makes it shine. . . . These are stories full of holy living creatures.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Melissa Pritchard’s aptly titled The Odditorium considers the inner lives of the strange, the damaged and the forgotten . . . with its zest for the macabre and its time-spanning imaginative appetite . . . the singularity of her narrators remains indelible [and] shows that fiction still has the ability to shock and surprise.” —Washington Post

“[Pritchard] takes risks, different risks in different stories. Can she write a segment in the form of a comedic Shakespearean dialogue? She can. Does a story evolve into epistolary form? It does. Will she be able to build a story around the format of an old newspaper feature? She will. Can she do it all with poetic, vivid prose? With one hand tied behind her back. Is Melissa Pritchard someone whose short fiction should be well known? Do you even have to ask?” —Los Angeles Times

“Pritchard’s exuberant prose is perfectly suited to carry the antic freight of these often bizarre, always cerebral stories. . . . This is a fulsome compendium of ripping good yarns.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

The Odditorium is a stunning read, dense and intricately woven, masterfully assembled and sensitively rendered. Pritchard’s text somehow comes across as at once delicate and forceful. Her interest in history—literary and cultural—in this collection adds a depth of focus and an attention to nuance that is truly arresting.” —California Literary Review

“Any great writer does many things at once, of course, but most lead with a particular strength. And then there is Pritchard, who simply turns all the dials up to eleven. In [The Odditorium], more than in previous works, history gives her the best playing field for her considerable energies and produces some of her most moving and satisfying stories to date.” —IMAGE: Art, Faith, Mystery

“The rewards for a careful expedition into The Odditorium are unforgettable moments of timeless, resonant truth . . . Pritchard’s descriptive talents illuminate not just the emotional depths of her characters but humanity’s physical innards as well.” —Bookslut

“Mesh[es] the surreal and metafictional with a deeply-felt humanism.” —Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“A master of the form . . . [Pritchard’s] fiction, like the best Gothic classics, makes us feel like we are traveling on a pleasant, meandering river—until we round the last bend and find ourselves on the edge of a waterfall, looking down into the darkest depths of the human soul.” —Washington Independent Review of Books

“Very clever . . . all the stories carry undertones of darkness that will creep into your soul and plant their desperate seeds deep within.” —Historical Novels Review

“Reading Melissa Pritchard’s short-story collection The Odditorium is a bit like peering into a Wunderkammer, one of those magical cabinets where the rich and adventurous used to display their treasures. The beautiful, the grotesque. The odd, the charming. . . . Pritchard uses fiction to bring new life to these figures—some famous and mythologized, and others not—blending the historical and the fantastical to create a collection of great charisma.” —Kirkus Reviews

Ladies and Gentlemen! Dreamers and Fools! Why not enter the fantastic world of wonders and horrors that is Melissa Pritchard’s The Odditorium…” —Phoenix New Times

“Melissa Pritchard’s The Odditorium is as strange, wonderful, and (most important) as much fun as anything good old Robert LeRoy Ripley could ever have envisioned. Passionate, bold imaginings that illuminate the darkest, most precious reaches of our lives. Believe it: these stories are a gift.” —PINCKNEY BENEDICT, author of Miracle Boy

“Melissa Pritchard has her GPS set to find the how it is—out there and in the heart—and she makes her way forward with her language on high alert. The prose is rhythmically astute, finely pitched, serving both imagination and witness.” —SVEN BIRKERTS, Editor of AGNI, author of The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age

“In this thrillingly protean collection of stories, Melissa Pritchard has done something profound. By imagining her way into historical moments and illuminating their shadows, she amplifies the music of history so we hear beautifully strange, wondrous notes we never knew were there. These stories resound with a fierce yet playful intelligence and a rare, magnificent generosity.” —MAUD CASEY, author of Genealogy

The Odditorium is a dazzling wonderment, its cast drawn from the far-flung corners of history and imagination, its language crystalline and high-voltage, its stories fearless and even visionary. Here is an irresistible curiosity cabinet of the famous, the infamous, the mysterious, the half-forgotten—conjured with prodigious empathy, wit, and energy by one of our finest writers. Melissa Pritchard is a treasure and this book is her glorious trove.” —BRADFORD MORROW, author of The Diviner’s Tale and The Uninnocent

“Fueled by roofless imagination and fearless curiosity The Odditorium is a case study in how one writer’s wisdom and empathy transforms known facts of existence into something more than magic. Pritchard draws from the cold, deep well of myth, legend, and history to redefine what narrative can do. Each story is a lesson in compassion. Each story is nothing short of genius. Each story was written for you.” —GINA OCHSNER, author of The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight

“No one is quite so brilliant at voicing the all-but-impossible-to-track interior lives of the most complex human beings as is Melissa Pritchard . . . there is so much energy and inventiveness! Her linguistic flexibility is stunning, comic and gravely substantial. At its heart is always the troubled, often confused but courageous and tenacious human heart.” —BRAD WATSON, author of Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives and The Heaven of Mercury

Customer Reviews