short story collection/ original fiction / literature gift / art gift / book / Punishing Ugly Children by Darryl Joel Berger


Punishing Ugly Children

a short story collection by Darryl Joel Berger, published by Killick Press

twenty stories in sliding darkness

each one introduced with a line illustration

*** every copy of this book order comes with a work of library card art –– an original artwork on a vintage library card ***


In Fall of 2010 I hosted a book launch (and art show) for the release of my first short-story collection Punishing Ugly Children, published by Killick Press. As successful as that evening was, I still have a small box of books left.

Punishing Ugly Children received good reviews from The Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire, Atlantic Books Today, among others. It was also short-listed for the national ReLit Awards. An excerpt from a review by The Fiddlehead's Ian Colford ...

"Berger writes like an anarchist plotting mayhem, his stories routinely deviating from the norm, venturing into uncharted territory where they live or die on their own terms. At their best, the stories break with tradition in a manner that seems not only natural but inevitable, and the reader finishes them with his mind open to new possibilities. When Berger fails, it's often because he's stretching an already thin premise beyond the breaking point or too obviously trying to shock the reader into submission. But this does not diminish the triumph that Punishing Ugly Children represents. This book adheres from start to finish to its author's bracingly fresh and idiosyncratic vision. Adventurous readers will want to pick it up, if only for the thrill of getting in on the ground floor or something new and strange."

Many of the stories in Punishing Ugly Children have been previously published in literary magazines in Canada and the United States.

The title page of each story is illustrated with a line drawing.

"Berger’s exceptional collection of strange, artful short stories offers the kind of instant gratification readers are hungry for in a time-starved world. Every school kid’s fantasy comes vividly true in ‘An Arsonist’s Guide to Physics’ - in a miraculous two and a half pages. Berger’s economy is his genius: he gets to the heart faster than a gamma ray. In ‘Free Rein’, a history professor and his mistress gamble the last of the children’s savings bonds with mixed success. ‘Red Horse Leader’ reads like a micro novel. ‘The Kingdom of Chicken’ is a surprisingly poignant portrait of the single girl’s dilemma and ‘Big Head’ is the literary equivalent of an episode of The Office, complete with email exchanges which make the reader cringe and grin, often in the same sentence."
~ Megan Power, Volume 1, Issue 3, December, 2010 issue of Arts East

“Darryl Joel Berger draws his connections from what has been disconnected by our global circumstance: characters deeply absorbed in their individual and often very funny crises, trying to operate as well as humanely possible in a world run by some bizarre remote control. His stories are crisp, quick, desperate and often horrifying in an elegantly understated way. Here are unforgettable situations inhabited by characters glimpsed at the moment they make the leap to their own unknown. This book is like a pocket full of gold coins, solid and bright.”
– Margaret Sweatman
(author of The Players and When Alice Lay Down With Peter, Winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize)

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