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Winner of the 2017 Linda Bruckheimer Series in Kentucky Literature

Forthcoming April 9th, 2019 from Sarabande Books

Order from Brilliant Books, and your copy will be signed!

Design by Alban Fischer

Full review in Publishers Weekly

Review by Michelle Donahue in the Adroit journal: “Hungry for More Histories

Review by Rebecca Hannigan in Into the Void: “Coming of All Ages in Make/Shift

Review by Michael Gawdzik in Another Chicago Magazine

“Sacksteder’s well-crafted, stimulating debut constantly changes form and style but retains a humorous edge throughout… Sacksteder’s wry humor and insight into his multifaceted worlds will keep readers on their toes. This is an excellent, surprising collection.”

Publishers Weekly

"Before you open this prize-winning book—yes, another 'prize-winning book'—leave whatever high expectations you have for it behind, and then raise them far, far, far higher. Make/Shift is an experience—uncanny, revelatory, transcendent. To read it is akin to walking along a path through new territory, in the dark, with a flashlight. However, it’s just as satisfying as it is mystifying, just as full of dislocation as it is of the firmest grounding. This is a walk, and a path, you’ll revisit—in your imagination, in your dreams, in your conversations, and also on the page. When I reached the last page, I returned to the beginning, and started to read it again, realizing: oh, this is the book I’ve been waiting to read, without knowing anyone could write this book! It’s a collection that will resonate as deeply with those who have the most traditional requests of their storytellers—thrills, surprises, atmosphere, suspense, voice, and plot (accompanied by the subversion of plot)—just as it will resonate with those who’ve been desperately searching for the newest forms, the most original voices, the wildest visions, the strangest strangeness, and the riskiest and most successful experimentations. Make/Shift is an important collection, and it arrives just in time to change us, save us, and frighten us—all of this, and all of us—at the same, perfect time." 

Laura Kasischke, author of Space, In Chains and If a stranger approaches you: stories


"Joe Sacksteder's Make/Shift is a marvelously inventive book, formally restless, endlessly playful even at its bleakest, a Rube Goldberg machine of experimental fiction artfully hammered together out of high school traumas, late capitalist ephemera, and insider jokes about Werner Herzog. This is a book of feints and swerves and surprises, a debut collection that takes real risks and delivers real rewards." 

Matt Bell, author of Scrapper


"In the title story of Joe Sacksteder’s Make/Shift, a valedictorian speech warns us that 'We let the world convince us to either/or our very souls.' The stories here reject that trap as wholly as their characters. This is an inventive, high-flying, often moving collection of stories told with screenplays and squiggles of road sealant, sheet music and taglines and game shows. Instead of either/or, Sacksteder shapes the noisy and and and of modern life into wonderfully surprising, unruly stories." 

Caitlin Horrocks, author of This Is Not Your City


"Subversive, provocative, and piercingly poignant, the disparate fictions of Make/Shift deliver the reader to the mysteries of inchoate grief, the hilarity of subliminal messaging, the ecstasies of transgression, and the magical possibilities of a parallel universe. Joe Sacksteder’s curiosity and compassion give him uncanny access to the hearts and minds of all his people: adolescent boarding school girls as they negotiate the nuances of their secret hierarchies; a valedictorian struggling to suppress the memory of a lost twin; and a father stalking dark streets in a futile effort to make sense of his daughter’s bewildering death. In a virtuosic performance of unmitigated sorrow, a mother finds herself snared in a haunting intermezzo by Brahms. The speakers gathered in this dynamic, playful, wildly inventive collection expose the dangerous absurdities of contemporary experience tenderly juxtaposed with the timeless, potent passions of human suffering."

Melanie Rae Thon, author of Voice of the River and Silence & Song


"In Make/Shift, Joe Sacksteder deftly stitches together an amazing range of short stories, with generic and structural variance so extreme that, as themes begin to emerge and build, their resonances are even more wondrous. What a world we inhabit here. It is our own, and yet not always familiar. This book has many obsessions: music—its performance, its tedium, the necessity of removing emotion in a performance in order to create art; labor; hockey; loss; writing; sexual taboos, kink and pleasure. Some of the prose poems, like 'Subs so fast you’ll freak,' read like linguistic puzzles, with sentences whizzing you in and out of stable identities and contexts. Others feel like a David Lynchian dream. Though there are many gems in this collection, a few stories, like 'Enough Sealant to Pool the Concavity,' are just plain breathtaking—gorgeous, weird, and heart-breaking. These stories operate within a logic of their own begetting. They’re wonderful. When I finished the book, the world felt just a little off-kilter, dazzlingly so."

Tessa Fontaine, author of The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death-Defying Acts

Photos from the KMAC Couture event in Louisville, KY, on April 20th. Make/Shift gown designed by Andrea Hansen to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Sarabande Books. She describes her process turning a book into a gown: “The skirt is made from the book’s pages quartered and then individually cut into feathers (and some even had the joy of turning into erasures) and the bodice from the book covers cut into strips and basket woven.” Hair: David Hudson. Makeup: Rebecca Reneè Rhodes.

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