This prize-winning debut of twelve stories explores a femininity that is magical, raw, and grotesque. Aghast at the failings of their bodies, this cast of misfit women and girls sets out to remedy the misdirection of their lives in bold and reckless ways.
Figure skaters screw skate blades into the bones of their feet to master elusive jumps. A divorcee steals the severed arm of her ex to reclaim the fragments of a dissolved marriage. Following the advice of a fashion magazine, teenaged girls binge on grapes to dye their skin purple and attract prom dates. And a college freshman wages war on her roommate from Jupiter, who has inadvertently seduced all the boys in their dorm with her exotic hermaphroditic anatomy.
But it isn’t just the characters who are in crisis. In Lungs Full of Noise, personal disasters mirror the dissolution of the natural world. Written in lyrical prose with imagination and humor, Tessa Mellas’s collection is an aviary of feathered stories that are rich, emotive, and imbued with the strength to suspend strange new worlds on delicate wings.
“Tessa Mellas is a visionary, possessed of the ability to take us to worlds we’ve never imagined but that reveal our all-too-familiar hopes, fears, and vulnerabilities. Her stories are lyrical, laced with exquisite detail and image. They show their intelligence not only through their originality but also, and perhaps more importantly, through their sense of humor. Our children may baffle us, bodies may deceive us, our friends may confound us, but at least, these stories suggest, we are not alone. Tessa Mellas has made our human community richer with this deeply original and unforgettable book.”—Julie Orringer
“Tessa Mellas's Lungs Full of Noise is funny, bizarre, dangerous in the way that Angela Carter's fiction was funny, bizarre, dangerous. The worlds herein are like our worlds, except more beautiful, more illuminating, more fantastic—in both senses of that world. A remarkable first collection.”—Brock Clarke, author, Exley and An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England
"The stories in this striking collection are both visceral and lyrical, rooted and airy. Mellas’s language seeks altitude, but her unceasing and vivid attention to the physical body provides exhilarating counterweight. If setting is where story takes place, the body is the real setting of this impressive debut."—Chris Bachelder, author, Abbott Awaits
"In her gorgeous debut, Tessa Mellas arrives armed with the sharp implements of fable and fairy tale, cutting back the mundane skin of the world to reveal its fruit, strange and sensuous and dripping with danger and desire. I dare any reader to remain unmoved and unchanged in the face of her characters' many transmutations: this book is a cocoon of story, and you will emerge from it transformed."—Matt Bell, author, In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods
“The stories in Tessa Mellas’s debut collection bear a resemblance—in their inventive conceits, their witty and playful execution—to the work of Kelly Link, Judy Budnitz, Aimee Bender, and Julia Slavin. But Mellas is an original, as these fiercely lyrical, delightfully idiosyncratic stories demonstrate. Her primary subjects are girlhood and apocalypse—and the ways in which, seen close up, those subjects may turn out to be the same. In Lungs Full of Noise, Mellas makes the familiar wondrous, strange, and surprisingly poignant. A splendid first book from a gifted writer."—Michael Griffith, author,Trophy