The nine stories in My Pulse Is an Earthquake take place in the clutches of grief. Characters struggle to make sense of sudden losses of life, love, and community. From 1970 to the present day, children and young adults from the Rockies to the Appalachian Mountains guide readers through the valleys of their lives as dog breeders, immigrants, Catholic school delinquents, rookie policewomen, drummers, ballerinas, teenage brides, and an accountant who keeps a careful inventory of losses.
In each story, we see the darkness that can surface during the happy moments in life—weddings, births, promotions, the opening night of a director’s favorite play, or the best performance of a dancer’s career, when no one important is there to watch. We enter daydreams and night terrors where the dead are within reach, pointing out how they could have been saved. We wear their clothes and carry their teddy bears or vinyl records everywhere. We crawl around in caves and pound hammers into walls until our own hearts stop beating.
This collection explores how the unexpected harm to young, vibrant loved ones—from murder, kidnapping, battle, accident, natural disaster, swift illness, or stillbirth—can rupture families, and how the most unlikely healers can bring together those who remain.
My Pulse Is an Earthquake was performed on stage by L.A.'s longest running spoken word series, The New Short Fiction Series, an event sponsored by Barnes & Noble. The New Short Fiction Series hosted launch party on September 20, 2015 as well, which included a performance by musical guest Lucy Peru.
Queen City Playhouse 1
Canis Major 15
A New Kukla 41
White Rabbit 66
The Lost Bureau 93
Representing the Beast 118
The Music She Will Never Hear 143
Center of Population 170
The Cliffs of Dover 189
Reading and Discussion Questions 223
About the Author 227
Kristin FitzPatrick grew up in suburban Detroit and earned degrees from Michigan State University, DePaul University in Chicago, and California State University, Fresno. A semifinalist for the 2014 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, Kristin is the recipient of residencies from Jentel and The Seven Hills School in Cincinnati. Her work has been chosen for the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and has appeared in publications such as Colorado Review, The Southeast Review, Epiphany, and The Best of Gival Press Short Stories, as well as on stage in Sacramento and Los Angeles. Kristin and her husband live in Southern California, where she is working on a novel and teaching writing at CSU Channel Islands. Learn more at kristinfitzpatrick.com.
"In this wonderfully diverse collection Kristin Fitzpatrick demonstrates over and over how well she knows the world and how deeply she understands her fierce and reckless characters. Her vivid plots and immaculate prose carry her readers to the edge of darkness. My Pulse Is an Earthquake is a terrific debut."
Margot Livesey, author of Eva Moves the Furniture and The New York Times best seller The Flight of Gemma Hardy. She now teaches at Iowa Writers' Workshop.
"My Pulse Is an Earthquake offers some of the most beautiful prose I've read in a long time, along with some of the most memorable characters. There's magic between these covers. I loved every word, and I'll be reading every word she writes from now on."
Steve Yarbrough, author of The Realm of Last Chances
"Kristin FitzPatrick has a gift for creating wholly formed worlds—simultaneously familiar and unique—that she invites us to enter while she spins out richly layered stories quite unlike any we’ve heard before. My Pulse Is an Earthquake is a truly masterful debut collection to settle into and savor."
Stephanie G’Schwind, editor of Colorado Review
“With a mesmerizing economy of language, Kristin FitzPatrick fathoms how people either rise to or fail each other in the crucial occasions of their lives. Each finely made story contributes to the book’s cumulative emotional power, which is--miraculously--both restrained and shattering."
Elise Blackwell, author of Hunger and The Lower Quarter
“Bold and refreshingly original, this debut work of fiction is astonishing. FitzPatrick spins out intriguing and richly textured stories, and in doing so reveals the dreams and struggles of children, aspiring artists, and working-class adults. With compassion and insight, these interlinked stories help us fathom the extraordinary vividness of ordinary life.”
Laura Long, author of Out of Peel Tree
"Kristin FitzPatrick possesses an extraordinary ability to place fascinating characters into situations that reveal profound mysteries and nuances of the human condition. Long after you’ve closed the cover on her debut short story collection, you’ll find yourself longing to know what happens beyond the small precious glimpse you’ve been lucky to catch of her characters’ vibrant, astonishing worlds."
Bridget Boland, author of The Doula and owner of ModernMuse: Energetic Tools for Writers
“FitzPatrick's debut collection is a stunning and intricately woven group of short stories exploring the topic of grief. Grief takes many forms, a concept elegantly articulated in this series of chronologically arranged stories that dips in and out of several characters' lives. With nimble structuring and evocative prose, FitzPatrick's pleasingly cohesive collection offers as many artful callbacks and codas as dazzling explorations of emotional vacancy and rebirth.”