“The stories in Mary Kuryla’s Freak Weather are by turns disturbing and astonishing, blending the desire for a better life with the quicksand of situational reality. In each tender rendering, a female protagonist navigates her surroundings by protecting herself from the peril she’s trying to escape, often with an animal standing in as an ersatz totem for the issue. These tales twist until they become something undeniable, and Kuryla’s commitment to letting her characters make mistakes without pausing to consider their actions is something rarely seen in fiction. Despite the rush of end-of-semester grading, we were able to speak by phone about her characters’ attempts to understand their sexuality, themselves, and the people around them—and how they use pets as an emotional buffer.”
“Freaky weather—or the kind of weather that brings out freaks? Either interpretation makes sense for this imaginative, unpredictable debut short story collection.” — PEOPLE, November 6, 2017
In her short stories, a novel-in-progress and her films, Mary Kuryla conjures arresting portraits of lonely, vexing, isolated and frequently damaged characters who, despite their precarity and eclectic impairments, resonate fully, becoming irresistible in their refusal to acquiesce or accommodate. Kuryla’s writing has been published in many publications, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Greensboro Review, Pleiades, New Orleans Review and The Brooklyn Review, and her bracing and beautiful feature film screened at festivals internationally. Kuryla has earned awards and acclaim for her fiction, including a Pushcart Prize, and, most recently, her collection of short stories, Freak Weather: Stories, earned The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction from AWP, where it was judged by Amy Hempel. The collection was just published by the University of Massachusetts Press.
In this interview with writer Holly Willis, Kuryla talks about the role of filmmaking and performance in her writing, and the role of fiction writing in her screenplays, and offers practical advice on how to make use of this powerful dialogue among forms.
Necessary Fiction’s Research Notes series invites authors to describe their process for a recent book, with “research” defined as broadly as they like. Mary Kuryla writes about Freak Weather.
“Otherwise Panic” by Mary Kuryla appears in Fall 2017 Issue of Shenandoah.
“Lottie in Fur” by Mary Kuryla appears in the Fall 2017 Issue of Denver Quarterly.
Mary Kuryla is the winner of this year’s AWP Grace Paley Award for Short Fiction for her collection, Freak Weather Stories.
In her comments, judge Amy Hempel writes,
There is a feral quality to some of these stories, an attitude that is truly startling. The language is perfectly matched to the not-so-conflicted women living off venison, weed, and their husband’s paychecks. The territory here is sometimes disturbing; the treatment of these people who are in over their heads is always both tough and surprisingly moving. The “action” resides as much in the brisk, fresh language as in what these people conjure in a crisis. Ultimately, the author delivers stories unlike anyone else’s.
See the announcement here.