Freak Weather Stories

Selected by Amy Hempel
FICTION/SHORT STORIES, Massachusetts Press
November 10, 2017


From a nurse who sees a rattlesnake in the pediatric ICU to an animal control officer convinced she’s found her abducted daughter in the house of a dog hoarder, the thirteen stories in Freak Weather are as unpredictable as the atmospheric changes that give this collection its name. The protagonists of Freak Weather Stories are flawed outsiders accountable for their own downfall as they struggle through an incomprehensible society. The weave of language is often inseparable from the narrator’s conviction of her story; the characters lie with such bravado they are soon tangled up in their own lassos. To encounter this brand of romanticism in such precarious characters is often intolerable, and Freak Weather Stories’ mission — Kuryla’s mission overall — is to scratch at the intolerable.

“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.”   — Amy Hempel, Grace Paley Prize judge

“This is what they mean by muscular prose, but with lithe muscles, quick and bright,
and dueling senses of swagger and grimness. A striking and satisfying debut. — Amy Bender

“What a memorable, witty, imaginative collection this is, beautifully modulated, extravagant yet precise. Each story is startling and expertly hewn, with a perfect balance of toughness and whimsy.” — Joanna Scott

“There is much beguiling strangeness in the pages of Freak Weather, but there are no strangers: you know all of these people. They’re the slightly scary neighbors, the folks who talk a little too loudly in the convenience store, the children who act older than they should. You’ve wanted to know about their lives, and now they’re telling you everything. Simultaneously appalling and gorgeous.” — Pinckney Benedict

“A powerful collection of stories about women who are unapologetically themselves– often struggling, sometimes drunk, sometimes irresponsible, but in all cases painfully human and alive.  Each of these pieces opens a window onto a life and then, before we have time to explain to ourselves how we’re not like that, abruptly slams it shut, leaving us exquisitely off balance.” — Brian Evenson

“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