Winner of the 2021 Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction (UNT Press, April 2022)
They Kept Running takes its title from a story about three women running in a national park in the Arizona desert, where they are warned to watch out for mountain lions and the heat, but where the real threat they encounter is men in a jeep. This collection of fifty-seven small stories catalogs the lives of women and girls as they grapple with the hazards of navigating the human world.
“Michelle Ross gives us the world of women in three parts in this extraordinary collection of flash fictions. Sharply observant and unexpected, often harrowing, these stories are just long enough to make their mark and leave us gasping. Danger in various forms lurks in these pages and for the girls, adolescents, and women who inhabit them. The writing is layered and precise, rich in metaphor and startling juxtapositions. The girls and women depicted in Ross’s stories are by turns innocent and knowing, vulnerable and mighty. They Kept Running is an intelligent, inventive, and utterly compelling masterwork by a writer at the height of her powers.” –Kathy Fish, author of Wild Life: Collected Work
“Michelle Ross is a magnificent conjurer. She waves her pencil and no one can guess what will arise out of her fictional ether. These stories use science experiments, fables, horror movies, the Girl Scout handbook, and the core elements of what it means to tell a story itself to string themselves tight as a clothesline with tension from end to end. Run and get your copy.” –Sherrie Flick, author of Thank Your Lucky Stars
“I’ve read over a hundred Michelle Ross stories now, and with each new tale, I feel as if I’m discovering a new writer, embarking on a grand adventure, meeting a character I’ve never before considered possible. With this third collection, Ross has proven herself not only one of our most innovative and smart (and prolific) storytellers, but she has also evolved into one of our great satirists, every piece buzzing with commentary and comedy. Whether Ross is lampooning overblown masculinity or spoofing misguided intellectualism, she strikes a truth every time, making They Kept Running a joyous, entertaining, and memorable read, her best effort yet.” —Michael Czyzniejewski, author of I Will Love You for the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories
“What I love about Michelle Ross is her mastery of voice—that wry, thoughtful delivery that opens a door into the stories she shares, that lets the reader peek in through the crack—and her use of language: musical and magical and, ultimately, believable and true. Finally, finally, we have this flash collection that I have been waiting for since I first read the opening story. What I love about Michelle Ross is that her writing exists in this world and I am lucky enough to read it.” –Cathy Ulrich, author of Ghosts of You
“In this taut collection of flash fiction, Michelle Ross weaves together fairy tales and horror, beauty and the grotesque, to inhabit the intersections of gender, sexuality, violence, and romantic love. Each story draws the reader into a sharply etched world studded with tension. A seemingly safe domestic life turns, just slightly, to reveal its hidden dangers. For the girl and woman characters at the center of this book, the call is often coming from inside the house, and Ross is unafraid to look directly at what lurks on the other end of the line.” –Meagan Cass, author of ActivAmerica