A Brief List of Our Favorite Chapbooks

October 23, 2020

Our new Chapbook Contest is still open just over three weeks! Sunday, November 15th is the deadline, so make sure to polish up those manuscripts and send them our way before it’s too late. If you’re still looking for some inspiration, check out our post on what we’re interested in reading for this contest or a few of our favorite chapbooks listed below. 

Ghost Box Evolution in Cadillac, Michigan by Rosie Forrest

We reviewed this fantastic chapbook in 2015 when it won the Rose Metal Press’s Short Short Chapbook Contest. Ghost Box Evolution in Cadillac, Michigan is populated by surprisingly destructive characters, searching for what one narrator calls a “shared brokenness.” Pamela Painter writes in the introduction, “Each flash story… evokes a startling, often dark, self-contained world. And each intriguing title sets a new tale into motion, unspooling with a mysterious, languid intensity. Join their company, but be forewarned that when each story ends, it stubbornly holds you in its grip awhile, until you are ready—brave enough, really—to venture into Forrest’s next luminous world.”

Autopsy and Everything After by Michael Chin

Slip into the world of semi-pro wrestling in Autopsy and Everything After, the winner of the Jeanne Leiby Award from The Florida Review. A linked collection, each flash within the chapbook introduces us to a new city, a new wrestler, a new move, a new relationship. “There is so much pathos and beauty and good humor in these pieces,” writes guest judge Juan Martinez. “I loved spending time with these people, how they surprised me, how much I learned about the itinerant wrestling world and how that world contains all of ours—our dead fathers, our lost exes, our fears and hopes.”



Together, Apart by Ben Hoffman

The winner of the (now defunct) Origami Zoo Press’s Chapbook Contest, Together, Apart was published in 2014, and reviewed right here at The Masters Review. “As the title suggests,” Sadye Teiser wrote then, “the stories in this collection transition rapidly between different modes of experience. The prose is by turns funny and sad. The narrators are cynical, then kind. The characters are constantly grappling with the difference between their desires and the realities they are presented with. It is in this impossible, transitional space that Hoffman’s stories flourish.”



The Third Elevator by Aimee Bender

Admittedly, this is not a traditional chapbook. It’s probably better identified as a novellette, but for our Chapbook Contest, we’re considering novellettes! In The Third Elevator, you’ll find a swan and a bluebird who fall in love; you’ll find a cloud that’s hatched from an egg; you’ll find an elevator that travels forty-five floors into the sky like an observation tower. You’ll find the magic and humor and fantastical storytelling that Bender is known for. “What in the god damn God Damn” are you waiting for?





This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey by Steve Almond

This list wouldn’t be complete without including a chapbook from our contest’s judge. This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey is part craft-book, part chapbook. In 30 microessays, Almond lays out what he has to say about the craft of writing fiction. The instructions are brief, barebones and too the point, but ring absolutely true. “Writing is decision making,” Almond writes in “Bullshit Detector”. “Nothing more and nothing less.” And there’s no way to talk about this chapbook without talking about its construction. Once you’ve finished half of the collection, you must flip the book over and upside down to read the other half, suggesting quite clearly that these are two books combined into one.


At The Masters Review, our mission is to support emerging writers. We only accept submissions from writers who can benefit from a larger platform: typically, writers without published novels or story collections or with low circulation. We publish fiction and nonfiction online year-round and put out an annual anthology of the ten best emerging writers in the country, judged by an expert in the field. We publish craft essays, interviews and book reviews and hold workshops that connect emerging and established writers.

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