The Arson People by Katie Jean Shinkle

ISBN: 978-1-937865-41-2
106 pages
Release Date: May 1, 2015
Civil Coping Mechanisms

Read Excerpt

Koharu-Mei lives on this road with her humongous family in a humongous house right on the lake with private beach front access. Koharu-Mei goes to private school and drives a brand new Audi, as does the rest of her brothers and sisters, they do not car pool. Koharu-Mei looks so good in a bikini, which Elsie Davis will never be able to wear. Elsie Davis wore a bikini once in middle school when she was running three miles a day in order to go to the woods far away from her grandmother’s house to smoke exactly four camel wide light cigarettes. That was the first and last summer of Elsie Davis’s life that she wore a bikini. Koharu-Mei lives in a bikini in summer and Elsie Davis, now knowing who she is, sees her at the gas station with all of her equally as beautiful and skinny friends that have glimmering skin and dark hair. Koharu-Mai has a summer uniform: oversized tank top and very small cut-off shorts that make Elsie Davis sink into her skin. Elsie Davis is going to set Koharu-Mei’s Audi on fire.

The Arson People burns bright and hot through the geography of a young mind—all of the cruelty and disaffection of small town youth is set aflame, and like a fire, has no center. Address to address, we map the progression forward and the story backward, but fire to fire, we trace, along with the arsonist, the problem back to her. This is the devastation of The Arson People—that we are both hero and villain, that we are complicit in others’ pain even as we try to right it. Katie Jean Shinkle is a force of a storyteller, as dangerous as she is poetic, and her book is a blaze.”
–Sarah Gerard, author of Binary Star


“Katie Jean Shinkle is a bit of a firestarter herself. You could singe yourself on this painfully good prose, and the sad burning heart of the protagonist’s mad mission will scorch the earth where you’re reading this book.”
–Amber Sparks, author of May We Shed These Human Bodies and The Unfinished World and Other Stories

KatieCCMKATIE JEAN SHINKLE is the author of Our Prayers After the Fire (Blue Square Press, 2014), and four chapbooks, most recently, Baby-Doll Under Ice (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2014). Other work can be found in LIT, Barrow Street, Third Coast, New Orleans Review, FLAUNT Magazine, and elsewhere. She serves as Associate Editor of Denver Quarterly.