Chavisa Woods' Books

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Publisher's Weekly

"Approach all unpleasant tasks in life as a performance art piece,” declares an unnamed 16-year-old goth in Woods’s collection of eight uncompromising stories set in rural Illinois. In visceral descriptions of decay, boredom, and limited opportunities, Woods (The Albino Album) besieges her coming-of-age characters with drugs, guns, jail, pedophilia, and teen pregnancy. (...) As Woods’s characters struggle to eke out an identity, they confront the bleak difficulties of their lives and persist in surviving.
- Publisher's Weekly

Lambda Literary

"Told with and wit and gravitas, Chavisa Woods’s Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country provides humane snapshots of outsider communities often overlooked in contemporary fiction." -Lambda

Tin House

The Brooklyn Rail Prose Round Up on Woods' Love Does Not Make Me Gentle or Kind


Most gripping are stories that, like real dreams, institute close connections between reality and fantasy.


 In "The Bell Tower," Woods brings a deftness and lightness of touch to a situation seemingly impossible to depict. A young woman falls in love, and mates with a bull buffalo. Scene after scene that might have been ludicrous is made magical. The two "elope," taking her lover's herd with them. The narrator comments, "He was the only leader I ever fully trusted, and the only lover I have ever kept. When I became tired, he carried me on his back. When I was injured, he licked my wounds."

Not all of Woods’ stories contain fantasy. Some are straightforward, observant realism, usually telling the stories of young girls, often social-outcast lesbians, raised by abusive fathers and ineffectual mothers. Pieces such as "The Smallest Actions" chillingly describes the kind of temporary amnesia younger children experience when an abusive dad passes through a period of parental affection

In Woods' most striking manipulations of form, she presents texts that are purely realistic, until the very last paragraph, when they brutally swerve into fantasy. "Mr. Bunny," for instance, describes a man who is eagle-eye alert to evidence of disrespect. It would be classified first-rate realism if not for a sudden burst of fantasy in the denouncement.