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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.

Pirate Talk or Mermalade, by Terese Svoboda

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Pirate Talk or Mermalade, by Terese Svoboda


Pirate Talk or Mermalade, by Terese Svoboda


Publication Date: October 12, 2010
Paperback: 151 pages
ISBN: 978-0-982631-80-5
Trim: 7.9 x 5.9


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Pirate Talk or Mermalade is a novel in voices about two brothers who meet a mermaid, fall into pirating, and end up in the Arctic. Henry Hudson said "mermaids are as thick as shrimp in these parts," and it was the Arctic where fellow explorer (and pirate) Martin Frobisher dropped off part of his crew.


"Astounding!" —The New York Post on Black Glasses Like Clark Kent

"Violent and enthralling." —Vanity Fair on Trailer Girl

"Desperate, chilling, seductive." —Vogue on Cannibal

"A true American original." —Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply

"A writer of real power and mystery." —Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask


"Told entirely through dialogue, this quirky tale of period pirate wannabes makes a jeu d'esprit of the privateer life even as it baldly de-romanticizes it. Its protagonists, two unnamed brothers (one of whom might not be male), put out to sea from their Nantucket home in 1718 bedazzled by fantasies of gold doubloons and buccaneer booty. Over the next decade, capture by pirates, shipboard slaughter, maiming and dismemberment, slavery, sodomy, shipwreck on a desert island, and getting stranded in the Arctic all follow in due course. Svoboda plays these travails mostly for laughs, presenting them as ongoing pratfalls in the brothers' klutzy comedy of errors. Periodic visits from a mermaid (perhaps their half-sister) and a parrot who steals the scene every time he croaks 'Hanged!' add to the fun." —Publisher's Weekly

"this book does not shiver, does not waiver, does not thin, and reading it is to see how our brightest and best writers can stretch beyond what we think realistic or probable on the page." —J.A. Tyler,elimae

"Pirate Talk and Mermalade is immediately engaging, with prose that is breath-taking yet easy to read. Short and deft, I devoured this novel, and expect that many others will enjoy doing the same." —Alex Myers, NewPages

"This book is something entirely new: a novella that’s also a sort of poetry, a poetry that’s also almost a stageplay. Pirate Talk is a strange and nastily beautiful book." —Emily St. John Mandel, The Millions