Queen's Ferry Press

Lesser Apocalypses

Bayard Godsave



Like “snow in the tropics,” this collection is a revelation. Clustered as shell-shocked survivors, Bayard Godsave’s Lesser Apocalypses occupy the edge of ruin. Though bleak, the stories contained here are enlivened, emboldened, by disaster. A man emotionally undone by his time inside a missile silo, by the turn of his key; a gas mask that reflects a marriage’s murkiness; a domestic bomber whose conscience ignites every fuse; a post-nuclear war refugee facing concurrent adolescence, motherhood, and middle age; and two former cosmonauts disengaged from everything but each other are all vivid against a tenebrous backdrop. Underpinned by a series of prophetic vignettes, the book’s blast zones are aglow–illuminating, through stark humanity, the blazing end of devastation.

"Lesser Apocalypses, Bayard Godsave’s trenchant collection of stories, does what the best fiction always does. Like Jesus’ Son or The Road, it gets inside our heads and won’t leave us alone. You’ll visit Paris after a neutron bomb depopulates it without destroying it, meet a kid who wants a gas mask and survival gear for his birthday, cosmonauts suffering from space dementia, and characters disposed to violence who would feel at home in any noir novel. These stories, with their ’hushed voices of ghosts and monsters,‘ will disturb your sleep with their disquieting visions and you’ll find yourself hoping that such insomnia is a regular occurrence. "
—Alan Davis, author of So Bravely Vegetative

"Haunted by apocalypse, damaged by fear, Bayard Godsave’s bright, driven characters struggle to utter their painful secrets, all constructing and living by private codes, all engaged in the art of consolation in a fallen world. The insides of these stories feel old and new at once, sepia–toned and dystopic, recalling Jim Thompson and Aleksandar Hemon. There’s world making going on in these gritty, provocative stories, and turns of phrase so gorgeous you want to hold them up and look at them under the light for awhile."
—Constance Squires, author of Along the Watchtower

"Lesser Apocalypses is an ambitious and assured debut story collection by Bayard Godsave. Told from a variety of perspectives, both male and female, first and third person, Godsave’s characters confront their own mortality in the face of a looming, often amorphous, threat. Danger—both real and imagined—permeates each of these ominous stories and sets the reader on edge. There’s a unity in these pieces that is further strengthened by a fractionalized narrative that runs through the collection, challenging the reader to fill in the gaps. In a post–Cold War world, Godsave’s protagonists are left to come to terms with their own immediate, personal apocalypses. Relentless, engrossing storytelling. "
—George Makana Clark, author of The Raw Man

"Early on in this absorbing collection, Godsave writes that in ’the morning the sun rose like a shock’—but so too does the author, and his book is the bigger jolt: inventive, absorbing, and altogether spellbinding, Lesser Apocalypses is definitely one of the year’s greater debuts. "
—Liam Callanan, author of The Cloud Atlas and All Saints

"Bayard Godsave writes like a man who’s staring down the future we hope never comes. The problem is, his characters are far too real to ignore and his language seems to arrive out of the very air we breathe. These stories of Godsave’s, I have to say, are going to haunt your dreams. "
—Lin Enger, author or Undiscovered Country

"Like the Cold War strategy of deterrence that pervades the stories in Lesser Apocalypses, the strength in Bayard Godsave’s tense, sinewy prose lies in what he chooses to conceal—the terror is out there, indescribable, hovering at the periphery of his characters’ lives, a specter that haunts them from an impossible distance. "
—Matthew Derby, author of Super Flat Times

Bayard Godsave is the author of the short story collections Lesser Apocalypses and Torture Tree (Queen’s Ferry Press). His work has appeared in Cream City Review, Pleiades, and The Gettysburg Review, among other places. He grew up in western New York state, and currently lives in southwest Oklahoma, where he teaches creative writing and literature at Cameron University.