from IF YOU GIVE A MAN A GUN
a nonfiction manuscript in progress
Forthcoming in Fourth Genre
The shot fractured her skull, and bone shards, like shrapnel from a hand grenade unpinned, lacerated her brain. I have difficulty understanding what this means. I have difficulty agreeing to see this image. What I picture in my head is Edgerton’s apple: the skin, the pulp, the bullet speeding forward, making its clean getaway.
When Open Carry Texas arrives at the Arlington shooting range, the men, mostly middle-aged and all of them white, wear coats, camo, plaid shirts, and tactical safety earmuffs. Some pull ski masks over their faces or hoodies around their heads, making it impossible to identify them. In their line of fire, they prop a female mannequin — topless, with her pants unbuttoned and threatening to slide off her hips.
in Writing Texas, #7
The second Mom left the room, my sister jammed the gun back into her mouth. She wasn’t sure she could pull the trigger. She knew instinctively she shouldn’t—her hands trembled, a warning siren if ever our bodies give us one—but the cartoon magic ran in a loop in her mind. She couldn’t stop seeing Daffy and Yosemite take the hits, couldn’t stop hearing the prank sound effects. She doesn’t remember cocking the hammer.
OTHER SELECT PROSE
In Leslie Jill Patterson’s “Against Fidelity,” the single word because springs open a doorway to the blaze burning up against it. The excitement of possibility is present throughout.
Center for Literary Publishing
"Target" is a compelling, rele-vant story. On one level it's a study in quietly placed wistfulness, placing the reader in its center. The author creates a space that facilitates an experience of empathy. On another level, it's a profound exposé of why we make the choices we make, and how, in the face of consequence, we are able—when we are able—to make peace with these choices.
Jill Alexander Essbaum
In my forty-four years of teaching and editing, I’ve read countless stories about abused women but never one like "Brace Yourself." Without a single scene of abuse (and the sensationalism such scenes almost inevitably create), the story parses its soul-shattering effects. At one point, the narrator says, "It’s odd, even savage, how lies are sometimes tender while truth can surprise you, like a backhand across the cheek." This story surprises us with just such a truth. Reader, brace yourself.
Prime Number Magazine
Leslie Jill Patterson’s "We Know the Drill," arguably the book’s most masterful essay, weaves personal narrative with threads about All in the Family, Lorena Bobbitt, and the portrayal of heterosexual marriage in television: it’s a powerhouse of an essay, more relevant—even prescient, in light of the Steubenville rape case—now more than ever.
J. Capo Crucet
In Leslie Jill Patterson’s "We Know the Drill," this genre of writing has a masterpiece, a study of sitcom-husband tropes that interweaves personal stories of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, cannily exposing TV’s failures at cultural instruction where it’s most necessary. "Drill" is emblematic of the most expert pieces in this collection, which foreground the personal without being narcissistic. That’s a liberating idea for the cultural essay—criticism that makes art its starting point but not its destination.
Washington City Paper
Trouble Is a Friend of Mine is full of rich writing and a deep understanding of the crooked kind we are. I like, too, the manuscript's emphasis on the necessity of story, that one of the ways we best understand ourselves is by throwing some English at real life to see what remains between margins when the fever dissipates. . . . I fell in love early and often with these people—flawed and fetching and determined to go forward even as the past lies in still smoking ruins.
Lee K. Abbott
Everett Southwest Award