Shapeshfting

“These poetic lines by Ross enhance the storytelling and her crisp dialogue between characters lets the reader sink into her language. Even in the most uncomfortable moments where dark issues are being discussed, like infertility, male chauvinism, alcoholism, rape and dystopian themes, the lyricism, metaphors and language lull the reader in wanting to move forward despite potential triggers. Ross wants her readers to think and isn’t interested in presenting a glossy panoramic view of motherhood.” – Rudri Patel, Literary Mama

“Ross’s aversion to neat, easy answers is complemented by a gift for dramatizing evidence to the contrary. This is the source of her subtlety. Many of the stories have open, Chekhovian endings. The comfort of resolution is not nearly as interesting as the surprise and mystery arising from observable ambiguity…Ross’s writing probes and tests assumptions that we often take for granted, and raises questions that will leave the reader musing, long after a story is finished.” -Charles Holdefer, Full Stop

“One of the standout stories comes toward the end of the collection, “The Pregnancy Game,” the only story to not prominently feature a mother figure or mother-to-be. In it, a group of girls play a game in the woods, organized by one of their number. They are given a status (pregnant or not pregnant), roll a die, and then advance forward a number of spaces and read their fate off a paper plate, options such as “You’re a slut who had casual sex and then took a morning-after pill. Go back to start.” The participating girls are confused; there’s no good outcome, pregnant or not. It is a brief but hard story, one about loss and the backwards laws women are still fighting against in this country. Consequently, it is the story that best captures womanhood: these are girls just entering the seventh grade, and already they are grappling with the consequences of pregnancy, Right to Life activists, late-term loss, their sexuality and gender and what these mean. Already, they are learning what rights and freedoms they and their bodies don’t have.” -Kathryn Ordiway, Masters Review

“The writing throughout this collection is compelling; the dialogue is especially authentic. But what really propels this group of stories is that Ross’s characters invite us into their most vulnerable moments and confess the kinds of imperfections that keep plenty of mothers awake at night. Ultimately, as one narrator reminds us: “all children are experiments — messy, uncontrolled, long-term experiments. Every day, there’s more to observe and discover.” And so it follows that every day, there is so much more we mothers are hoping to get right.” -Carla Panciera, Mom Egg Review

“Ross’s writing is descriptive and still manages to be spartan; the characters are complex and occupy their pain to a degree that’s magnetic and disturbing. Each interaction is a ten-car pileup you can’t help but watch. Each piece of dialogue and exposition rolls into the next, exquisite and excruciatingly beautiful.” -Mick Parsons, Moon City Review

There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You

“I first discovered Michelle Ross when I read “If My Mother Was the Final Girl,” which won the Gulf Coast Fiction contest in 2003. This story is both a guide to slasher films and an uncomfortable look at the rituals of a dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship. Ross’s varied collection runs the gamut from realism to speculative fiction. In “Key Concepts in Ecology,” workplace politics play out as a threatening creature lurks near an office building. “Stories People Tell” begins as a statutory rape scenario and evolves into a situation of even greater moral complexity. Ross never lets the reader off easily: We emerge exhausted and grateful from each of her well-earned conclusions.” -Jan Stinchcomb, Paper Darts

“The stories are peppered with sticky, slimy, jelly-like imagery, and cultural relics. Newton’s Third Law becomes seamlessly paired with a sticky lollipop, a mother explains life to her son in an aquarium, and another mother explains death in a Home Depot. Ross’s ability to be both technical and fantastical shows her versatility as a science writer and storyteller. There’s So Much They Haven’t Told You tackles big topics, yet remains sharp in its presentation.” – Kate Stern, An Antigone Books Review.

“Who are we, if we mostly don’t exist? Ross presents a more kaleidoscopic vision of our short, mostly mundane lives, forcing us to wonder just how much more they haven’t told us, how many more ways of seeing we have yet to discover.” – Siel Ju, The Rumpus

“This collection feels like a science textbook that’s been handed down from student to student, scribbled with notes, hearts and dragons penned over topographical maps—transformed into an art object that contains both science and myth. Ross’s stories are smart, heartfelt, and surprising.” – Dana Diehl, Heavy Feather Review

“This book makes me less lonely.  This book breaks into homes and bodies full of dysfunction, and looks each character in the eye.  Maybe what’s most moving about Michelle’s stories is they are honest.  They don’t flinch.” -Melissa Goodrich, blog

“Ross excels on many levels. Her lyrical, image-rich prose consistently startles. She has penned some serious, brave, thoughtful, and, at times, very emotional stories that steer clear of sentimentality.” – Nick Kocz, The Collagist