I’ve been a short story guy from way back and first became a fan of Ed Falco’s when we published one of his stories, “The Gift,” in The Missouri Review in the mid-eighties. This is a classic, by the way, one I think could stand to be in every anthology of American fiction there is. Over the years we published several more of his stories, and I began looking for his work in other magazines. He has a voice that you trust as a reader, and a skilled, artful way of telling layered stories that are about something important. His stories are filled with plot and believable characters who are often so clearly realized you feel as though you know them. Often these characters have some dark flaw—either of basic personality or arising out of circumstance—that they must face, if not overcome, in order to protect their family, especially their children, from some real physical or emotional catastrophe that arises with sudden unexpectedness—a brush with outside evil—or from their own private demons that have been buried in the past. They ask moral questions, force risky moral choices, and in many ways are very traditional pieces, but with a distinctly contemporary edge, with a tension that can build to a razor edge in a flash, without a lot of commotion. Some of these turn out well enough, some become cautionary tales. All of them are emotionally complex, tinged with ironic or unexpected consequences.
For a long time, Fred and I have wanted to publish a story collection. But they’re difficult to do successfully for a commercial publisher because the sales are so often not what you would hope they’d be. For whatever reasons—I have a few ideas, but they’re only theories—people don’t tend to buy story collections. There are, of course, exceptions every year, but the exceptions are so unpredictable. Still, we both admire the form and love reading stories ourselves. And part of our mission at Unbridled—as its been everywhere, really—is to support the best voices we can find, over the long haul whenever possible, and to publish work that we believe has a chance to last.
I absolutely love Ed Falco’s writing—it has everything I look for in fiction. He has a large body of work but he hasn’t reached a broader audience that I think he deserves. We decided that if we ever were going to do a story collection, this one was it. We decided to make it a selected works because he has such a large opus that, for whatever reasons, hasn’t yet reached that large audience and we wanted to make a statement—we wanted to tell people that, hey, here’s a guy who is one of the very best practitioners of the short story form, and has been for years, and now you have this chance to read him, perhaps see what you’ve missed. I’m very proud, and Ed should be proud, that every story in this collection stands on its own. There are no fill ins. We were very careful about making sure that every story we included paid off.