Borrowing from Peggy Lee, Is That All There Is? transforms the famed song’s fatalistic exuberance into a slim volume of minimalist and genre-blending narratives. From a vacation with friends to a retreat with strangers, danger lurks around every corner.
Spanning generations and continents, interweaving cursed travelers with prophetic artists, this book is a showcase of the luckless and lovelorn, the criminal and damned.
“Sinister, stylish, and sexy, this collection weaves together the complex lives of women and the dangers they face across generations, from a cultlike 1970s mindfulness retreat interrupted by death, to a menacing near-future corporation that makes apologies for its clients, and the greatest danger of all: marriage.”
— Katie M. Flynn, author of The Companions
“The language here is so firm and so real, but the stories themselves are a wonder. Each reads, at times, like evidence of something beyond its own borders, a great puzzle comprised of lives that morph and cross and sing with mystery. Think Christie, in a Donald Barthelme way. In truth, I’ve never read a collection that works exactly like this one does. I’ve asked to be put at the top of the forthcoming list of its many admirers.”
— Scott Garson, author of Is That You, John Wayne?
“‘He had all the advantages of life but it was no use,’ Marcelle Heath writes in her brilliant and elegant linked debut collection. Privilege may offer a veneer of comfort, but nothing can tame the existential unrest spreading its entanglement like kudzu underneath. Her mastery of language is on full display in sentence after sentence of crisp, vibrant precision. Heath lends a sharp eye to her characters—“most had broken marriages and abandoned children”—whose fraught humanity pulses through these pages, rendering Is That All There Is? an absolute marvel. The instant I finished the last word, I returned to the very first to try to suss out how she did it: that’s how clever, lasting, and alive these stories are.
— Sara Lippmann, author of Doll Palace and Jerks
“Readers familiar with Heath’s tiny fictions will delight in the discovery that they interconnect along with longer stories in this collection, as if figures within an exquisite mural that unfurls all the way around the building. In Heath’s slanted, ethereal cosmos, things aren’t always as they seem, and her haunted characters, her ‘regal urchins’—refined, privileged, and prickly—rarely understand what they are missing until it’s too late, a tragedy wrought all the more devastating by Heath’s masterful, electric, and brilliantly precise prose. Not a delicious word is wasted here where love is elusive and danger lurks. I am in awe and will be telling everyone I know to read this book.”
— Kara Vernor, author of Because I Wanted to Write You a Pop Song