The stories in Other Kinds are about a place. They are stories about the woods, houses hidden in the gaps between mountains. Behind them, the skeletons of old and powerful machines rust into the slate and leaves. Water red with iron leeches from the empty mines and pools near a stone foundation. The boy there plays in the bones because he is a child and this will be his childhood. He watches while winter comes falling slowly down over the road. Sometimes he remembers a girl, her hair and the perfume she wore. These are stories about her and where she might have gone. He waits for sleep because in the next story he will leave. The boy watches an airplane blink red past his window. From here, you can't hear its violence.
“Dylan Nice's Other Kinds is the most extraordinary short-story-collection debut I have read in years.
It is a book to be memorized.” – Gary Lutz
“We have been extremely fortunate to feature Dylan Nice’s prose fiction in the last four editions of NOON. In 2013, we will showcase three new, brilliant stories. His voice is startlingly mature and powerful — capable of probing the darkness with a lyricism that illuminates and enlivens the spirit.” – Diane Williams
“In the nine short, satisfying stories of this fluid debut collection from Nice, strained moments of intimacy and misunderstandings appear along with the clipped prose, which is at times lyrical and, at others, sobering and stark. Often, as in “Flat Land,” “Ice Floe,” and “Wet Leaves,” boys from mining families, whose fathers “said things that sounded like scripture, like it had all been thought about long and hard and decided upon,” end up liking girls who come from different, warmer worlds. The results are conversations under streetlights and over beers that usually lead to unreturned phone calls and wishes for what wasn’t meant to be. While each brief story flows into the next, it can be difficult to remember which was which or what really happened. Yet, although the long-term resonance of plot is thin, the immediacy of the words and images make for reading that is visceral and alive with the smell of rain and the pulse of silence.” – Publishers Weekly
“Unreturned phonecalls, impeded intimacies, homesickness for homes we’ve outgrown: for all of us, these fierce longings are familiar. For me, Other Kinds is a book about human finitude. It encompasses not only its narrators’ nostalgia and alienation, but also mine, maybe yours. And in this, the book is borne aloft, absorbing the bracing scale of the earth—what its author has called “the size of the world and how it thrills me.” – 3AM Magazine
excerpts and stories elsewhere online
Lily looked at you hard when she laughed. She came to the plains from an eastern city to see the size of the weather, the long breaths of wind, the way you could see the rain well before you rode into it. The place I was from was just as empty but not as flat. It took me years to get used to having nothing on the horizon, nothing farther in the distance to mark time. When I first got off the highway, there was a tin-roofed gas station at the end of the long exit ramp, then a town you couldn't see until you were inside it. There were dusty brick streets and storefront bars, a lot of places to find someone who looked a lot like Lily. I met her late one summer night when she caught me about to kill a wasp beneath a streetlight.
This was a thing normal people do: they bring their dogs over and then the dogs play together while the normal people have a drink and talk about a vacation they just took or a cake recipe that turned out fabulous. I resented these types of behaviors, allowed no room for them in my life. But I was in graduate school and dog-sitting for friends of mine who lived in a nice house on the edge of town. The friends were a couple, both poets, and had gone to Portugal for two weeks to visit other friends, also poets.
I have these vivid memories of my childhood in rural Pennsylvania, ones in which I’m alone and standing beside a bright orange river, or on top of a mound of slate, or walking far into the woods on a rail bed whose ties are piled and rotting in the weeds, and feeling a kind of privilege, nigh on elitism that I was allowed to be near something so ruined, and that the beautiful things I found there I didn’t have to share with anyone else. It was a deep and private love. I remember figuring out early, on trips to beaches or state parks, that places regarded as beautiful by other people where usually crowded and noisy, and that the people who went there were after an easy beauty. This might be a flaw of mine, but I often deny myself joy which comes easily. I find myself fighting for free gifts.
So I love the ugly places, because loving them feels like something earned.
I definitely wanted to avoid the collection feeling like it was all my stories in a pile, which was probably an unwarranted fear, one that started in the vast imagination of my insecurity. I knew that the stories talked to each other, since they were all of the same world and born of a single vision: a working through of a conflicted self. They were also each about a place and set in that place or about being from that place and set somewhere else. I could feel an arc when I thought about what I knew was going in the collection. The challenge was figuring where that arc started, its course, and what story might swallow the collection whole at the end.