In stock

ISBN: 978-1-62557-702-3
Reviews & Media Review in GLASSWORKS
Categories Fiction, Short Stories

True Ash

Publication Date: August 2018


During the month of June, Black Lawrence Press will donate $1 to The Trevor Project for every copy of True Ash sold through our website.

Microchips that don’t know when to stop, pop culture clones poised to take over the planet, a mysterious burial in a popular park, candy cigarettes wreathed in sugary ash. In these interlocked short stories, Elizabeth J. Colen and Carol Guess conjure characters guided by instinct but misguided by technology, longing for intimacy but propelled by desire. Taken together, these stories detail the spectrum of human loss and describe the rise and fall of a fictitious Seattle company governed by unruly appetites, a world of glass windows where privacy comes with a price.

Cover art for True Ash provided by Corinne Botz. Visit Corinne online at www.corinnebotz.com


Remember when you crawled into bed, pulled the covers over your head, and devoured a book cover to cover? True Ash will bring you to that edge, with a side of whiskey, a hand in the bottomless candy dish, a lover next to a lover next to Betty Crocker or a dead ringer for Taylor Swift. You will emerge questioning what is/isn’t, a candy cigarette poised on your lip, as you revel in the collaborative lyrical genius of Colen and Guess.

–Natasha Kochicheril Moni, author of The Cardiologist’s Daughter and Lay Down Your Fleece,

Sensual, haunting; askew to reality in a way that unsettles. I love these stories.

–Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

So much is packed into True Ash: love, loss, danger, desire…and especially the danger of desire itself. The characters in these linked stories are plagued by an “endless stream of wanting and the book is by turns sexy and scary as the characters prove again and again that they are as capable of destruction as they are of intimacy. Although they hunger for human connection, they move across a rotating stage of semi-magical worlds dominated by a kind of rogue technology that seems designed to keep them apart. But they keep trying, in stories that examine everything from corporate culture to environmental degradation to art brokerage. What is most beautiful in this book of much beauty is how each story exists as a beacon of hope, connecting to readers through gorgeous language that evokes everything we most love and fear.

–Kelly Magee, author of With Animal and The Neighborhood

About the Authors

EJ Colen

EJ Colen is a PNW-based educator, writer, and editor interested in long-form poetry, the lyric essay, literary and visual collage, and research-based approaches to storytelling and memoir. She is the author of What Weaponry, a novel in prose poems, poetry collections Money for Sunsets (Lambda Literary Award and Audre Lorde Award finalist in 2011) and Waiting Up for the End of the World: Conspiracies, flash fiction collection Dear Mother Monster, Dear Daughter Mistake, long poem / lyric essay hybrid The Green Condition, and fiction collaboration True Ash. With more than two decades of social justice activism, EJ remains committed to centering marginalized voices in all the work that she does. Nonfiction editor at Tupelo Press and freelance editor/manuscript consultant, she teaches in the English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Departments at Western Washington University.

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Carol Guess

Carol Guess is the author of numerous books of poetry and prose. Recent Black Lawrence Press titles include Doll Studies: Forensics and With Animal (in collaboration with Kelly Magee). Forthcoming books include a short story collection, Sleep Tight Satellite (Tupelo Press), and a hybrid collaboration with Rochelle Hurt, Book of Non (Broadstone Books). A frequent collaborator, she writes across genres and illuminates historically marginalized material. In 2014 she was awarded the Philolexian Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement by Columbia University. She is Professor of English at Western Washington University, where she teaches Queer Literature and Creative Writing.

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