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Dzanc Books is nonprofit press specializing in literary fiction and nonfiction. In addition to publishing activities, Dzanc Books also supports the Disquiet International Literary Program.

Fires of Our Choosing, by Eugene Cross

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Fires of Our Choosing, by Eugene Cross


Fires of Our Choosing, by Eugene Cross


Publication Date: April 3, 2012
Paperback: 195 pages
ISBN: 978-1-936873-07-4
Trim: 8.6 x 5.4

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Eugene Cross captures much of his generation's fears and excitements with a collection of realistic stories that borders on darkness at times. His is a voice combining humor and pathos with an edginess creating fresh new stories that are being published in great literary journals regularly.

A boy acts out at the death of his father and abandonment by his brother through a savage playground beating; a young man confronts his own troubled history when asked to hire on his girlfriend's strung-out brother in an attempt to keep him out of prison; a teenage babysitter works through a scorching-hot summer afternoon that will prove to alter her life forever; a grieving widower finds comfort in the unlikeliest of places, a recently-built casino; an itinerant farm worker visits the same former lover in South Dakota year after year while following the Harvest north; two friends search for excuses and fail to claim responsibility for their own decisions after one loses his father, and the other's house burns to the ground; and a taxidermist falls in love with the ex-wife of his high school bully and tries to convince her to marry him despite her son who seems to share his father's bullying mentality.


"The stories in Fires of Our Choosing burn bright with an almost uncanny understanding of the human condition. I was moved by the deep feeling and precision of these stories, and by the compassion Eugene Cross has for people who rarely get compassion in real life. This is a memorable, beautiful, heartbreaking book." —Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply and Stay Awake
"Eugene Cross's book of stories is beautifully made: eloquent and at times darkly comic, these stories are particularly alert to the ways that working people cope with what's been given to them. The stories also are wise and scary about American violence. I loved this book; it's a brilliant debut." —Charles Baxter, author of Gryphon: New and Selected Stories
"Fires of Our Choosing is everything I want a story collection to be: It's varied and bold, tender and hopeful, confident and wise. Eugene Cross writes with such piercing insight and fearless honesty that I felt like I had learned something new about the world after every tale." —Cristina Henriquez, author of The World in Half
"With great skill and precision, Eugene Cross paints complex portraits of lost and tortured souls only to then locate and put a tender finger on something redemptive, pinning in place a human being as his or her most vulnerable. The darkness shadowing so many of these characters is balanced with a wash of compassion and understanding. Eugene Cross is a wise and wonderful talent andFires of Our Choosing is a stunning collection." —Jill McCorkle
"Every day I see wonderful stories put together beautifully by brilliant young practitioners of the form. And even in this shining company Eugene Cross stands out: his stories are smart--even shrewd--portrayals of people we know and live with; and the passions in them are as compelling as the news. They ARE the news, the real news, news of the spirit, and they are also completely involving and richly entertaining." —Richard Bausch

"A brilliant, sometimes heartbreaking debut by this gifted young writer and Columbia writing teacher. Cross captures the angst and tenderness of the young men and women growing up in the rust belt with little hope and less luck. The moments of grace and redemption shine through. I loved every story." —Linda Bubon, Women & Children First Bookstore

"There are countless moments like this in Fires of Our Choosing, lines that appear true from the moment they’ve been written and hang in the back of the mind for days afterwards... With Fires of Our Choosing, Cross climbs boldly into the ring with the greats, if only to deliver a decisive knockout punch." —Urban Waite, Fiction Writers Review

"Cross offers no apologies for his characters: their poor choices, their lack of moral fortitude, their betrayals of each other and the poverty of their surroundings and, often, themselves; he leaves these things alone. They are who they are, and if dignity has been denied them by the rest of us, including us story-tellers, it is restored by this collection. That he has undertaken to serve as their raconteur should place Cross on the radar of all the big prizes that gift those blessed with talent, compassion and fearlessness, particularly during this present moment in our history." —Ru Freeman, Huffington Post