A Manual for How to Love Us: Stories (Paperback)
A debut, interlinked collection of stories exploring the primal nature of women’s grief—offering insight into the profound experience of loss and the absurd ways in which we seek control in an unruly world.
Seamlessly shifting between the speculative and the blindingly real, balancing the bizarre with the subtle brutality of the mundane, A Manual for How to Love Us is a tender portrait of women trying their best to survive, love, and find genuine meaning in the aftermath of loss.
In these unconventional and unpredictably connected stories, Erin Slaughter shatters the stereotype of the soft-spoken, sorrowful woman in distress, queering the domestic and honoring the feral in all of us. In each story, grieving women embrace their wildest impulses as they attempt to master their lives: one woman becomes a “gazer” at a fraternity house, another slowly moves into her otherworldly stained-glass art, a couple speaks only in their basement’s black box, and a thruple must decide what to do when one partner disappears.
The women in Erin Slaughter’s stories suffer messy breaks, whisper secrets to the ghosts tangled in the knots of their hair, eat raw meat to commune with their inner wolves, and build deadly MLM schemes along the Gulf Coast.
Set across oft-overlooked towns in the American South, A Manual for How to Love Us spotlights women who are living on the brink and clinging to its precipitous edge. Lyrical and surprisingly humorous, A Manual for How to Love Us is an exciting debut that reveals the sticky complications of living in a body, in all its grotesquerie and glory.
Erin Slaughter is the author of two poetry collections: The Sorrow Festival and I Will Tell This Story to the Sun Until You Remember That You Are the Sun. She is editor and co-founder of the literary journal and chapbook press The Hunger, and holds an MFA from Western Kentucky University. Originally from Texas, she lives in Tallahassee, Florida, where she is a PhD candidate at Florida State University.
“Slaughter admirably conveys a heightened awareness of how we harbor within our tamed lives an undeniable wildness.”— — Library Journal
“[A] gritty debut fiction collection…[readers] will appreciate Slaughter’s storytelling chops.”— — Publishers Weekly
"A Manual for How to Love Us is a collection that reads like a wolf howl, every page alive with longing and hunger and desire and rage. Erin Slaughter writes with tenderness—capturing the sweet intimacies of friendship, of kindness in unexpected places—but also with an unflinching eye for the pain that connects us, shapes us, makes us who we are. This is prose from a poet’s heart." — Allegra Hyde, author of Eleutheria
"This deeply imagined, brilliantly ferocious debut collection sits perfectly among the fiction of Danielle Lazarin and Kelly Link. A Manual for How to Love Us lays bare the power and wildness of grief. It is unequivocally one of the best debut collections I’ve read in years." — Peter Kispert, author of I Know You Know Who I Am
“The stories in A Manual for How to Love Us read like a cold ocean swim: salty and refreshing and sincere, each a bracing exploration of the particular blessings and burdens of womanhood in all its ugliness and glory. I couldn’t ask for something stranger or more beautiful. Erin Slaughter is a masterful sentence writer in firm command of her craft, and this book is an inspiration and a gift.” — Julia Fine, author of The Upstairs House and What Should Be Wild
“Erin Slaughter’s debut collection, A Manual for How to Love Us, is an evocative mix of strange realism and Bachelardian obsession. Slaughter is a gifted stylist who can instill the most mundane objects with profound meaning and depth. In her world, a tongue is never only a tongue, a thorn far more than a thorn, and even a fly–buzzing alone in a bedroom–harbors the impact of a father.” — Isle McElroy, author of The Atmospherians and People Collide
“Stunningly fierce … Slaughter intentionally blurs the line between real and unreal and ghosts and people, creating a spellbinding tilt across stories and worlds. This dark but whimsical collection is perfect for fans of magical realism and strong female characters." — Booklist
"With a poet’s lyricism, Erin Slaughter crafts a debut collection that is speculative, dark, and thoroughly feral." — Electric Literature