Open Reading Period Selection


ISBN: 978-1-62557-074-1
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Things I Want Back From You

Publication Date: June 2024


“Compulsively readable… deeply observational… precise, surprising, and off-handedly hilarious.”

– The Masters Review

Set in the fictional California town of San Encanto – a place where suburban angst coexists with the astonishing – a lonely wife finds her oppressive husband has become a dirigible who follows her from the sky, a neglected boy spends his summer unwinding a parasitic Guinea worm from his little sister’s belly, and an aspiring life coach attends a self-actualization seminar that goes wildly off the rails. In Things I Want Back From You, Elizabeth Stix’s hilarious and poignant debut of 20 linked stories, hopelessly flawed characters flail against their own insecurities, seeking one true moment of connection, and if they’re lucky, winning that rarest of gifts – a second chance.


Elizabeth Stix’s voice is dazzling – rueful, lyrical, incisive, and funny as hell. Think of Lorrie Moore, Deborah Eisenberg, or perhaps most of all the late great Laurie Colwin. The stories here don’t so much link as they fizz, in a cocktail of sweet hope and loss.
—Jonathan Lethem, author of Brooklyn Crime Novel

Funny and poignant, this collection will resonate with any reader who has felt trapped by something inexplicable, what Stix calls “the fishbowl of our circumstance.” She takes on love, alienation, betrayal, and recriminations with wit and wisdom, and a generosity of spirit. Her tight cast of characters is frequently smothered by longing, doubt, and sometimes each other in a California landscape that shimmers with possibilities just out of reach. Elizabeth Stix is a true bard of modern life.
—Elizabeth Gonzalez James, author of The Bullet Swallower and Mona at Sea

Elizabeth Stix’s Things I Want Back From You is charming and inventive. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, the interlinked collection of stories—set in and around the Bay Area suburb of San Encanto—features achingly alive characters who yearn for connection. An enchanting debut.
—Vanessa Hua, author of Forbidden City

With sharpness and ease, Elizabeth Stix shows us how the short story, above all literary forms, can deliver an explosion of meaning and feeling. Neighbors, co-workers, families and friends mess up and carry on in stories of poignancy and humor that disturb and delight. An affirmation of the absurdity of life and the steadying power of love.
—Kathryn Ma, author of The Chinese Groove

Stix’s offbeat debut collection…credibly portrays the indignities of modern life.
-Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Elizabeth Stix

Bay Area native Elizabeth Stix writes and edits in Northern California. Her stories have appeared in McSweeney's, Tin House, Boulevard, The Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine, and elsewhere. Her work has been performed live at Selected Shorts in New York and the New Short Fiction Series in LA, and her story “Alice” was optioned by Sneaky Little Sister Films. In the early 2000s, she founded the vanguard lit zine The Big Ugly Review. Her stories have won the Bay Guardian Fiction Prize and the Katherine Manoogian Scholarship Prize, and have been finalists or semi-finalists for the Disquiet Prize, Glimmer Train Fiction Open, Boulevard Emerging Writers Contest, Sherwood Anderson Prize, and others. When she's not writing, she can be found staying up way too late doing the NYT Spelling Bee.

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