April Warnings is a collection of linked short stories that can be read together as one. The narratives are connected by the strange Midwestern ritual of going into an underground tornado shelter, the disappearance of a young boy, and a growing mythology about aliens and cultists near the railroad tracks of the Callahan Ranch in Baxter County. This mysterious location recalls Juan Rulfo’s Comala, Laura Hendrie’s Stygo, Colorado, Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, and the New Mexico of Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Última. Farms, highways, and churches become the epicenter for truths, fictions, and myths rooted in larger ideas from the so-called “American Heartland,” a place belonging to indigenous populations, immigration routes, and beliefs about worlds that exist beyond the prairie. The product of growing up in Nebraska and an obsession with literature from the Spanish-speaking worlds, April Warnings evinces the diversity of people, thoughts, and beliefs that make places like Baxter County impossible to forget.
"Going into an underground shelter is a strange midwestern ritual. We move to the cellar in the backyard, enter the doors that lead below the earth, and pray the rosary until the storm passes. At some point the sirens go off. That's when boys run to their mothers, and dogs tremble beneath the bed. Meteorologists and science teachers have been rehearsing the drills for years. Head to the basement. Stay away from windows. Cover yourself with a blanket. If you're in a car, pull over. Never try to outrun a tornado."
from "Snipe Hunting" -MP
Praise for APRIL WARNINGS
"Mark Pleiss investigates small town corruption, mystery, loss, faith, family, metaphysics, and even aliens, all under the funnel of a tornado that warps the line between fact and fiction. A riveting debut of linked short stories, April Warnings whirled me around and lifted me into the sky."
—Erika Krouse, author of Contenders and Come Up and See Me Sometime
"Mark Pleiss' April Warnings is a revelation of rural life. The spirit of the Midwest and its people inhabit these connected stories like minerals in soil: subtle and vital. Tornadoes and livestock; farmers and worry, faith and cost: these are the building blocks of this part of the world. It's a place that too many people call "flyover country," but that Pleiss' fiction invites us into, to put up our feet and stay a while. You'll want to do just that."
--Teague Bohlen, author of The Pull of the Earth and winner of the Colorado Book Award for Fiction
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Pleiss is a writer in Denver. He publishes fiction, book reviews, scholarly criticism, and essays. His work has appeared in Tupelo Quarterly, Colorado Review, Pop Matters, The Omaha Pulp, Sequel, Fine Lines, Palimpsest, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Denver Post, The Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, Anales de la literatura española contemporánea, and elsewhere.
He worked as a freelance journalist for The Omaha World-Herald and The Des Moines Register before completing a doctorate in Spanish Literature and teaching at St. Olaf College, the University of Colorado Boulder, and Metro State University Denver. He is from Omaha, Nebraska.
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GET IN TOUCH
Author photos by Austin Zaletel. Like them? Contact Austin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Mark at the email below for readings, editing services, or to receive a review copy of April Warnings.