Single-Sentence Stories

Harold Jaffe

Tom Whalen


ISBN 978-1-959556-76-3       356 pages        $20.00


As short prose grows more and more popular, practitioners have begun investigating sub-genres such as mini-prose, whose lineage goes back through Modernists like Scutenaire, Gómez de la Serna, and Félix Fénéon to the 18th Century aphorists. Here, two of our finest contemporary writers, longtime experimentalists, play ping pong with the form, scintillatingly.

 —M. Kasper


In Single-Sentence Stories, Jaffe and Whalen investigate the mysteries, pathos, joys and comedy of human experience while at the same time offering us a celebration of the primacy, flexibility and power of that singular, wondrous creation: the sentence.

 —R. Sebastian Bennett


What Jaffe and Whalen have created is the perfect melding of form and meaning; they examine, in one-sentence stories, those who have themselves been sentenced, sentenced, that is, to marginalization, suppression, oppression, violence, and death, those who have been without and who have or have almost withstood, and Jaffe and Whalen do so in perfect succinctness as unrelenting agents for the awareness and action that are needed to bring radical improvement to this world we have all been sentenced to.

 —Ekhard Gerdes


Praise for Jaffe and Whalen

Jaffe's convincing portraits of the dispossessed are moving, insightful glimpses of the human spirit under stress.

      NY Times Book Review


Harold Jaffe is a master of the disembodied voice. These fictions—transgressive, political, dryly comic—are grounded in an ancient tradition, that of the speech of the storyteller. Interlocutors talk as if out of dark caves, and the result is a marvel of conversation that takes the reader to places somehow beyond the “real world,” only to comment, often searingly, upon its absurdities. Each of Jaffe’s volumes has been ground-breaking, and Goosestep is no exception. This is a book of great mastery, some of the most inventive fiction of our time.

     Toby Olson


As TERROR-DOT-GOV vividly demonstrates: We are spiritually imperiled by illusions masked as “news.” Omissions, slants, pallid editorials all testifying to servitude to a slavish, enslaving “text.” Harold Jaffe knows this by heart.  Everywhere in Terror-dot-Gov, is exemplary skill, faultless tonality, and courage. Don’t forget courage.

     Daniel Berrigan, SJ


From the docufictional shards of GOOSESTEP emerges a savage prophetic voice as grief-maddened as Isis picking through the bones on illusion’s killing floor to reassemble a dream that cannot be reanimated.

     Patricia Eakins


Harold Jaffe’s Brut could not be timelier.  The book broadcasts the vision of a master conjurer—a writer who sees through walls, who dismantles both assumed truths and false truths, who celebrates the dialectic of creation and destruction that is the authentic act of imagination. Jaffe’s selection of artists is impeccable; his brief biographical vignettes are not just illuminating, but revolutionary.

     Larry Fondation


I was transfixed in this volume by Jaffe’s incisive blows to the hypocrisy of flag waving, nation building, and the lethal intent by our leaders who stride the globe in bloody boots commanding the 99 percent to obey the law and get to work in the marketplace of nightmarish dreams. Jaffe has missed absolutely nothing in delineating our expiring Kultur. Brilliant.

     Regina Krummel: Editor: Prison Poetry by Shackled Women: The Gates Clang Shut


Brainy and groovy, thoughtful and post-literary, these essays on contemporary media madness are Jaffe at his best: poignant, inventive, right between the eyes of corporate culture.

     Eloy Fernández Porta, author of Emocionese


If you like your narratives vanilla, go somewhere else. This is pure terminal atrocity exhibition rainbow ice.

     Lance Olson


If there can be no successful revolution without love, there can be no successful revolutionary literature without love either. In Jaffe's BEASTS we have it. These voices from the submerged population call us in, and we can't resist them. They have a secret to tell us in their own accents. This is a collection of authentic unforgettable prophecies.

     Fanny Howe


Jaffe's fictions are a wonder of deadpan humor, biting wit, and visual beauty. No recent fiction has gripped me with such force and immediacy.

     Marianne Hauser


Whalen’s work is thickly lyrical and meditative, interrogating the relation of language to things, of books to life.

     Douglas Campbell, Review of Contemporary Fiction


Tom Whalen is one of the first-rate experimental writers in the New South whose work cannot be missed.

     George Garrett, Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook


Whalen is an incredible stylist who generally prefers to bury his sense of humor deep

 … Kafka fans will appreciate the attention Whalen pays to the pointless bureaucratic repetitions that make a University appear busy ... The other Austrian writer to bring up is Thomas Bernhard, for The President in Her Towers is a first-person obsessive’s tale to the last page.

     Gabe Durham, The Brooklyn Rail


Everything ambulates in Tom Whalen’s brilliant little trilogy, Elongated Figures: the dead, the living, the inanimate landscape and all the fragments environment is heir to. […] Whalen uses the most mundane of actions to suspend normalcy. He does not so much create the surreal out of regular dailiness as show regular dailiness to be surreal.

     Maureen Owen, The Poetry Project


Call it science fiction or meta-fiction or cyber fiction . . . wonderfully funny, often exciting, always baffling, and occasionally even profound. The Straw That Broke is the Moby-Dick of mice!

     R.H.W. Dillard


Reading Tom Whalen’s Grand Equation, I am reminded of my early years of writing prose poetry and reading the great masters of the form including Baudelaire, Jacob, Edson, Tate, and Simic. Like the great prose poets before him, Whalen’s work is startling, witty, surreal, and metaphysical. He uses the form to enchant and to entertain, to describe other worlds and offer new windows onto this one. His images, parables, and insights make the absurd seem ordinary and vice versa. And remind me that the world is not as I imagine it to be, and neither am I. This is a collection to ponder, savor and return to.

     Nin Andrews, author of The Last Orgasm


These beautifully crafted prose poems are as animated and frightening as voodoo dolls—think the American Girl collection in the hands of Cindy Sherman. Dolls delighted and frightened me beyond belief.

     Denise Duhamel, author of Second Story


Russell H. Greenan is the chronicler of people living at the edge: the edge of civilization, the edge of madness, the bitter, crumbling edges of their own lives. Tom Whalen’s The Birth of Death and Other Comedies: The Novels of Russell H. Greenan is, like the novels it so lovingly details, masterful, uncommon, and intensely personal.

     James Sallis


In reading these short pieces [in Little Snow Landscape by Robert Walser], translated with mastery and attention to emotional nuance [by Whalen], one is struck by the author’s abiding good nature and boundless sympathy for his milieu. Walser enthusiasts will find much to love here.

     Publishers Weekly


Harold Jaffe is the author of 30-plus novels, essays, short fiction, docufiction, and drama.

His writings include Porn-anti-Porn; Death Cafe; Induced Coma; 15 Serial Killers; Dos Indios; Anti-Twitter; Strange Fruit and Other plays; Jesus Coyote; Brando Bleeds; Madonna & Other Spectacles; and Beyond the Techno-Cave. His work has been translated into French, Italian, German, Japanese, Turkish, and Serbo-Croatian.



Tom Whalen is a novelist, short story writer, poet, critic and translator of two books by Robert Walser, Girlfriends, Ghosts, and Other Stories and Little Snow Landscape (NYRB Classics). His work has appeared in Agni, Bookforum, The Brooklyn Rail, Film Quarterly, Georgia Review, Harper’s, The Literary Review, The Missouri Review, The Paris Review, as well as several anthologies including Sudden Fiction, Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present and The Book of Eros.