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Unblinking

Stories by Lisa Lenzo

Fiction

Made in Michigan Writers Series

Paperback
Published: May 2019
ISBN: 9780814346716
Pages: 208 Size: 5.5x8.5
eBOOK
Published: May 2019
ISBN: 9780814346723

Of Lisa Lenzo’s first collection, Charles Baxter wrote: "Lenzo’s stories have a strong pulse of feeling and a sly intelligence, and her angels, children, and lovers have an eerie radiance, a hard-won wisdom, that you can spot on any page of this book." In Unblinking, Lenzo’s angels, lovers, and children are back—older, sometimes wiser, and shedding new light.

All ten stories in Unblinking take place in or circle back to Detroit and portray both the beauty and grit of the city and its inhabitants. In "Up in the Air," a blues musician cherishes his memory of falling from a tree — "the utter sweetness of falling, of floating, almost still" — even though his downward plunge has left him seriously disabled. The narrator of "In the White Man’s House," recalls a high school basketball game, torn by racial division, and the distress of his teenaged friend who strove to be "blacker." In "Losing It," a disgruntled angel tries to help a nurse control his outbursts of comic and fruitless anger. And in "Marching," an old white man, who now has great difficulty walking, remembers marching fifty miles with Martin Luther King Jr. Despite the hardships they experience, the characters in the collection find pleasure and solace in what this lovely planet has to offer. By turns playful and grave, told with humor and candor, these down-to-earth and heavenly stories will both surprise with fresh insight and remind the reader of what they already know.

Unblinking is a short story collection for any lover of contemporary fiction looking for that strong pulse of feeling.

Lisa Lenzo is the author of Within the Lighted City, chosen by Ann Beattie for the 1997 John Simmons Short Fiction Award, and 2015 Michigan Notable Book Award winner Strange Love (Wayne State University Press). Lenzo’s other awards include a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, a Hemingway Days Festival Award, and First Prize for Fiction in the 2017 Literature and Medicine Writing Contest. Her stories and essays have appeared in Arts & Letters, Michigan Quarterly Review, Sacred Ground: Stories about Home, Fresh Water: Women Writing on the Great Lakes, and on NPR.

Brave, honest, and profoundly good, Lisa Lenzo has never been afraid of places where less angelic writers fear to tread.

– Jaimy Gordon, winner of the 2010 National Book Award for Fiction for Lord of Misrule

Unblinking reads like a love letter to caregivers. Anyone who has ever provided hands-on, often-grueling care for someone they love will find solace in these stories. Lenzo reveals the transcendent joy we feel when, fearing the worst from our communities, we instead encounter the best.

– Laura Hulthen Thomas, author of States of Motion (Wayne State University Press, 2017)

Between her earlier book, Within the Lighted City, and now with these memorable stories in her new collection, Unblinking, Lisa Lenzo has forged her own personal Detroit literary tradition. Her work, like that of iconic Detroit poets such as Robert Hayden and Philip Levine, sings with soul and compassion.

– Stuart Dybek, author of Paper Lantern: Love Stories

Lisa Lenzo writes with grace and courage. In the ten stories that make up Unblinking, her characters mine memories, music, and the magnetic city of Detroit in their search for connection and self-realization. These stories are especially interested in change, whether it occurs over a lifetime or in cataclysmic moments, and the ambivalence of its aftermath. Along the way, readers can count on Lenzo to find the humor and heart that keeps us all hanging on.

– Anna Clark, author of The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy

Set largely in and around Detroit, Lenzo's third poignant story collection, following Strange Love (2014), features diverse characters attempting to negotiate the realities and shifts in their lives . . . Lenzo's ten stories traverse the boundaries between her characters' internal and external lives and truths, offering nuanced glimpses into the multifaceted vulnerabilities of everyday life.

– Leah Strauss, Booklist

Among current practitioners of the art of the short story, Lisa Lenzo has a unique style and voice. Her stories are so natural that the art behind them is invisible.

Unblinking moves from the western Michigan of Strange Love to Detroit, where Lenzo grew up. Perhaps its greatest strength is Lenzo’s ability to examine the realities of Detroit, past and present, black and white, with eyes wide open. She doesn’t shy away from addressing the economic devastation or the racism that has long bedeviled the city. But the focus is on the lives being lived there.

– Bill Wolfe, Read Her Like an Open Book

It's hard to write about goodness. It seems that much in our history and our time inspires against the possibility of it. So many of us, otherwise well-intentioned readers, are skeptical of goodness. Yet Lisa Lenzo has found a way to write about it. Her sentences are clear and direct; unadorned. She lets action stand by itself without comment. She lets people act with their uncertainties, even their stupidities, but she understand the world as a place where people can do good things. They care and their actions often show that care.

– Keith Taylor, Stateside on Michigan Public Radio

A debut short story collection by writer Lisa Lenzo beats with feeling, raw intelligence, and singular perspicacity. All 10 stories in the work take place in Detroit, and the characters — ranging from high school basketball players to Martin Luther King Jr. to transcendental angels — take readers through both the hardships and victories that characterize life in our beloved city.

– Lakshmi Varanasi and Sarah Williams, HOUR Detroit

By turns playful and grave, told with humor and candor, these down-to-earth and heavenly stories will both surprise with fresh insight and remind the reader of what they already know. "Unblinking" is a short story collection for
any lover of contemporary fiction looking for that strong pulse of feeling.

– Midwest Book Reviews

Reading—and rereading—Lisa Lenzo’s work, I realized what I’m sensing disappearing from the American literary landscape. I rarely these days find solid short stories, rendered in the American realist tradition, that take on smallness of life, the moments we barely perceive and yet we know have meaning. It’s rarer I feel to see a work that returns, gently, to people who have not truly grown and evolved but still provide them the grace of nuance while acknowledging their flaws. I hope that I’m wrong and that Unblinking isn’t a eulogy for a fading literary mode but the harbinger of a return.

– Hasanthika Sirisena, Fiction Writers Review