ISBN 978-0-9984634-5-2, paperback, 195 pp., $22.95, June 23, 2020
A middle school teacher relies on eight interchangeable heads to cope with her job. A woman tries to negotiate life with her arthritis witch and her boyfriend’s seizure elf. The Germanic goddess Berchta, tired of being a fearsome hag, shows up in a woman’s apartment wanting to be flat-mates.
In the fictional worlds depicted in Instances of Head-Switching, sphinxes are kept as pets, unicorns are raised on ranches, and Sisyphus has escaped from Hades and is happily working as a bagger at a grocery store. But characters still struggle to pay bills, deal with cranky customers and bosses, and navigate life with partial vision, limited mobility, and chronic diseases.
Focusing on themes of embodiment, disability, and economic insecurity, Teresa Milbrodt offers witty and inventive tales full of compassion for her cash-strapped, hard-luck characters. The collection includes stories originally published in Guernica, Strange Horizons, PANK, and other journals.
Teresa Milbrodt is the author of the short story collections Bearded Women and Work Opportunities; the novel The Patron Saint of Unattractive People; and the flash fiction collection Larissa Takes Flight. She has an M.F.A. from Bowling Green State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.
Cover design: Whitney Pearce
Cover art: Negative Capability by M.M. Dupay, © 2006 by M.M. Dupay, mmdupay.com.
Praise for Instances of Head-Switching
“Spectacularly unique…. Combines the mundane and the extraordinary to center disability, domestic life, embodiment and poverty in new and thought-provoking ways.” —Ms. Magazine
“Maintains [an] unvarying focus on marginalized individuals in precarious situations,… handl[ing] these situations with considerable nuance.” — Strange Horizons
“It is Milbrodt’s imaginative worlds grounded in science, myth, and magic that make this collection so delightful, and it is her characters, grounded in realism, that leave readers considering their relationships with their bodies…. Careful attention to detail, compelling characters, and humor mixed with fantastic elements that present familiar themes in new ways create engaging reads.”—Wordgathering
“The stories … report back from other worlds in sharp prose that is evocative but never flowery. … Strange settings are the background for characters to contend with the myths our own culture perpetuates about age and ability. Narrators aren’t named in these stories, giving the sense that they are filing reports with a supernatural news service.”—Heavy Feather Review
“At the heart of these stories is control. How we fight for it, the consequential and inconsequential ways we can get it, and what we will give up to have it.”—The Masters Review
“A seamless blend of ordinary and extraordinary” —Museum of Americana
“Defines a magical realism for the domestically marginalized… [with] dead-on, deadpan deliveries.” — Michael Martone, author of Brooding and and The Moon Over Wapakoneta
“Sets the absurdity against the prosaic…. That juxtaposition gives the collection its weight, lets us marvel at its inventiveness.” — Mary Troy, author of Swimming on Hwy N