The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastard
Graywolf Press
Robert Boswell
“Miss Famous”

“Miss Famous” is from Boswell’s short-story collection, The Heyday of The Insensitive Bastards (Graywolf Press, 2009).  Boswell is the author of twelve books including Tumbledown, his most recent novel, and the cyberpunk novel Virtual Death (published under the pseudonym Shale Aaron), a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award.  He has received two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the PEN West Award for Fiction. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories, and Pushcart Prize Stories.


The New York Times said of the collection:  For more than 20 years, Robert Boswell has written stories and novels about wayward men and women in the American heartland whose compasses could use recalibrating. From “Dancing in the Movies,” his debut 1986 story collection, to his most recent novel, he shows a sensitive and comprehensive under­standing of the quirks that can shake a person off course: from fear, passivity and pride to external knocks and dings that are easier to spot, harder to fix.  Boswell’s new collection, “The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards,” brings together 13 stories of misfits next door, captured in moments when circumstance drags them in new directions.


Another reviewer described these stories as “sometimes discomforting, occasionally raunchy, often funny and always electrifying.”


About “Miss Famous,” Boswell says: “When I write novels, I tend to write hundreds of pages that I will ultimately have to cut.  It’s material that I need to write to fully understand the characters and the movement of the narrative, but it’s not necessarily material the reader needs to read. Also, now and again one of the plotlines simply fails to develop into an interesting narrative thread, and I have to cut it for the good of the novel. Often I have to cut some of my favorite bits—a painful endeavor for any writer. I save all of the pages, though, and after the novel is published, I cull through them to see if there’s any material that might lend itself to the story form. Monica, the main character in “Miss Famous,” was originally a character in one of my novels Mystery Ride, and the core of this story appeared in an early draft of that novel.”

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