In stock

ISBN: 978-1-62557-946-1
Categories Fiction, Short Stories

The Big Book of Sounds and Other Stories

Publication Date: July 2016


Excerpt from “The Wind Catalog”

# 41 – A gentle late spring wafting with overtones of 2 AM on the stretch of grass adjacent to the University library one block from your dormitory, coupled with a suggestion of someone you finally managed to sit with and say nothing to and hold. Vintage 1990.

As with anything new and unfathomable, they did not know what to do with The Wind Catalog except laugh at it. While they laughed, a new and updated Wind Catalog arrived. Some of them looked through this one and only laughed in smaller portions at the empty illustrations coupled with neat call letters and elegant descriptions.

# 103 – A slight early summer breeze with hints of caramel corn and cotton candy and grease from the axles of small rides quickly constructed and then taken down at weekend’s end in the parking lot of the local supermarket every October. Vintage 1979.

They discover that The Wind Catalog is distributed by The Classic Wind Consortium. There is a website. When they check the website they discover it is a reproduction of the catalog only with an easy-to-use navigation bar and a prominent link to JUST ADDED. The Classic Wind Consortium lists no address. It lists no CEO or founder. Visitors to the site are assured that sales representatives are standing by to take their orders when a 1-800 number is dialed. They dial, curious. They dial because it won’t cost anything. A pleasant sales representative answers. No one knows what to do next. Did they really need vintage wind?


“Jon Steinhagen’s The Big Book of Sounds captures the rhythm of everyday life at its most sinister, deftly leading us into a world that is simultaneously familiar and unsettling. In twenty-two flawless tales, most escapades in form as well as substance, Steinhagen creates a haunting world that is vivid and true and categorically unique. Imagine the spare, sharp prose of Sherwood Anderson layered with Shirley Jackson’s eerie genius….and you have maybe an inkling of the adventure in store for you. The Big Book of Sounds is a work of towering imagination, a collection of carefully burnished gems not to be missed.”

–Jacob M. Appel, author of Miracles and Conundrums of the Secondary Planets

There is always a need for a special machine.” So says The Big Book of Sounds and Other Stories by Jon Steinhagen. In an age of snipe hunts, shell games, and offer after offer that’s too good to be true (or too bad to pass up), this book is just such a singularly necessary machine. Alternately channeling notable idiosyncratists from the last century (Beckett, Barthelme) and from this one (Miranda July, Jonathan Safran Foer), Steinhagen’s stories are replete with missing persons and murderously empty voices at the end of the line. Here, tours of nothing are cheap but not free, and you can buy vintage wind, from a catalog, because air is not nothing, especially when it moves. In this wonderfully strange and (yes) unmistakably moving new collection, Steinhagen is trying to sell you on the idea that even nothing is not nothing. Buy it, I say. Hook, line, and sinker. “Why should I?” you say. Because it says right here: the guy meant every single, soulful word.

–TJ Beitelman, author of John the Revelator

The Big Book of Sounds and Other Stories is populated by amateur con artists and performers– people both tragic and funny who have become so good at staging their inner lives that the line between artificial and genuine is no longer perceptible. Their search for meaning in this world of uncertainty provides the context for stories of magical invention, where characters buy vintage wind, create nations out of baseball teams, play interchangeable parts in romantic webs, or endeavor to catalog every sound a human can make. Jon Steinhagen’s masterful way with voice reveals how people use language itself to both mask and unmask human emotion, asking readers to question how well we, too, really know our own hearts.

–Kelly Magee, co-author of With Animal

About the Author

Jon Steinhagen

Jon Steinhagen is a Chicago-based author, playwright, composer/lyricist, and actor. He has been a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists since 2008 and has received four Joseph Jefferson Awards and eleven nominations for his work in Chicago theater. His stories have appeared in many print and online literary journals, while his plays “Blizzard ’67” and “Successors” and musicals “The Teapot Scandals” and “Emma & Company” have been produced nationally. He received the Julie Harris Award for Playwriting in 2009 for “The Analytical Engine” and was an awarded finalist for the Clubbed Thumb Biennial Commission in 2013 for “Devil’s Day Off”. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and company member of Signal Ensemble Theatre.

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