Wavering between fidelity and freedom, the women in this sparkling debut collection deal with emotional damage and unhealed heartbreak by plunging into unusual, often bizarre, relationships. In Pia Z. Ehrhardt’s stories, adultery and impropriety become disquietingly mundane. Mothers expect daughters to be complicit in their love affairs, children seek shelter in families that aren’t their own, fathers court their available daughters, a couple enters into a marriage that lasts thirty days a year, and a young girl takes to the road with the simple guy who bags groceries at Piggly Wiggly while her mother imagines her safely at school. Beautifully restrained and shot through with tenderness, Famous Fathers and Other Stories establishes Ehrhardt as both a leading practitioner of the short story and an empathetic interpreter of the lives of wounded people who instead of asking for what they want take what is offered.
— Karan Mahajan – The Association of Small Bombs
Pia Z. Ehrhardt’s Famous Fathers is a stunning first collection. The stories charm and tease and threaten with equal fervor. Ehrhardt’s narrators are always a little bit in heat, open to love’s every fleeting attention and intent on having and being pleasured by their moments of grace or disgrace. From “Running the Room,” in which a daughter helps her mother with a little spirited indiscretion, to a breathtaking moment in “How It Floods” when a father’s attentions to his daughter linger at the edge of incest, these are stories that tempt the heart like no others. To read them is to be seduced, at night and in the slanting rain, in a new city, over quiet water, by the woman of your dreams.
–Frederick Barthelme, author of Moon Deluxe; Two Against One; The Brothers; The Law of Averages; Bob the Gambler; Elroy Nights; Waveland
Pia Ehrhardt’s tender and funny stories are filled with passionate women just barely bottled up by their everyday responsibilities: busy-hearted wives and mothers who may find themselves surprised by love or their own resiliency but who never doubted for a moment the intensity of their desire to touch the world. They experience their lives as tunnels to negotiate before the payoff of so much space. They render for us that jumping-on-a-trampoline feeling, when our most intimate connections are the top of the bounce, and the view up there is both scary and sweet.
–Jim Shepard, author of Batting Against Castro; Project X; Love and Hydrogen: New and Selected Stories; Like You’d Understand Anyway; Like You’d Understand Anway; The World To Come
Pia Z’s stories will break your heart in the best way imaginable. I actually gasped aloud several times while reading this astonishing collection–it’s that brave, that funny, that shocking, that good.
–Karen Russell, author of St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves; Swamplandia; Vampires in the Lemon Grove
Pia Ehrhardt’s compassion for the sorrows of love springs from a sensuous heart and a mind quickened to truth. Her stories travel the road of desire, with a generosity of wit that makes a reader eager, a bit breathless, and in the end grateful for the journey.
–Tom Jenks, founder & editor, Narrative Magazine
“Ehrhardt deftly captures the repercussions of a narcissistic mother caught in the undertow of her own desires…It’s quite amazing what Ms. Ehrhardt accomplishes.”
–S. Kirk Walsh, The New York Times
“All readers recognize it when they hear it – the siren song of the truth teller, the voice that will lead you someplace new, summoning you to an experience that may be dangerous and will certainly be unforgettable. And once you’ve heard it, that voice, you’re along for the ride, wherever it goes, listening, seduced. The stories in Pia Z. Ehrhardt’s Famous Fathers and Other Stories have that powerful allure. Her stories will leave you breathless and wanting more.”
– Susan Larson, New Orleans Times-Picayune
“The themes of adultery, incest, and pain are present in all of these brief, lyrical tales…fascinating and moving.”
“So emotionally honest you almost want to flinch while you’re reading.”
“…mesmerizing…In less than 170 pages Ehrhardt conveys pathos, humor, joy, anger and longing. This collection of short stories marks the author as a talented up-and-comer.”
“These are lean stories, swift and surprising in the way they refuse to settle the reader’s expectations…Ehrhardt has a gift for lucid description that has the hyperreal effect of a still life, causing one to recognize the elegance of an ordinary thing. It’s the mark of a natural storyteller.”
– Lacy Crawford, Narrative Magazine
“Refreshingly, Ehrhardt doesn’t string the reader along with inflated prose or over-the-top characterizations. Her stories are clean, sharp-edged, and imbued with honesty.”
— Michelle Reale, Philadelphia Inquirer
“The antidote for chick lit, Ehrhardt’s characters make the same questionable choices again and again. Her beautifully simple and flowing prose guides them through their damaged lives and toward a measure of, if not forgiveness, then understanding.”
— Time Out Chicago