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Still Life with Plums

Marie Manilla
October 2010
PB  978-1-933202-60-0
PDF  978-1-933202-61-7
EPUB 978-1-943665-60-0


Still Life with Plums is a vibrant collection of short stories that weaves together the outwardly distant lives of several strangers. With heaping doses of dark humor and magical realism, these ten stories enliven a cast of characters carefully speckled throughout the southern portion of the United States. From West Virginians, to Texans and Latinos, Still Life with Plums circles the paths of a Black-Irish West Virginian, a wise-cracking dog groomer, an emasculated husband, a Guatemalan widow, a Japanese-Latin-American poster child from WWII, and a meticulous predator. Marie Manilla’s accessible prose is deceptively layered, as she births and wrestles this quirky ensemble that unflinchingly probes the human psyche, while affirming a concrete connection to a shared place and identity.


  • Hand. Me. Down.
  • Childproof
  • Grooming
  • Amnesty
  • Distillation
  • Still Life with Plums
  • Counting Backwards
  • Crystal City
  • The Wife You Wanted
  • Get Ready


West Virginia native Marie Manilla is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her stories have appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Prairie Schooner, Mississippi Review, Calyx Journal, Kestrel, Portland Review, GSU Review, and other journals. She is the author of the upcoming novel Shrapnel, a Fred Bonnie Award for Best First Novel winner.


"Marie Manilla’s Still Life With Plums houses in its pages a repository of heartache and joy.  Its soul lies in life’s little moments, somehow still yet perpetually fleeing.  Manilla’s words take flight in the mind and dance “like paper birds in the wind.”  Inevitably, the words will root inside the reader, like the memory of a fossil or a Polaroid picture, and once there, they will cease to be still.  Just as the people in these stories, they will keep on humming."
Glenn Taylor, author of The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart  and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist

"This mesmerizing collection of stories is full of my favorite things: brilliantly vivid characters, rich cultural textures, bleak humor and surprising story turns. Manilla weaves a kind of literary magic that kept me reading late into the night."
Zoë Ferraris, author of Finding Nouf and City of Veils

"Any reader who cares about mature, intelligent, graceful storytelling should be thinking very seriously about getting Still Life with Plums into their life--buy it, download it, check it out of the library--whatever it takes to be able to read and savor and learn from Marie Manilla's fine and resonant stories."
Richard Currey, author of Fatal Light and Lost Highway

“This is an accomplished collection, displaying a variety of voices, settings, conflicts, and surprising resolutions. The writing is sure, and the stories demonstrate a writer who is confident in her vision.”
Kevin Stewart, author of The Way Things Always Happen Here