Postludes by Matthew Burnside
A, as in almanac for the dead but still dreaming. B, as in bestiary for the broken and the brave. C, as in crisis, catharsis, or conclusion: the cosmological fate of us all and how we choose to end things. Offering up an eclectic landscape of language experiments, patches of surrealism, and more traditional tales, POSTLUDES spans the style spectrum from A-Z, analog to digital, and heartbreak to hope in its earnest and empathetic variations on the theme of finality and The End.
Cover Art by Ted Closson
“The ability to work this rule-bound stuff called language into a medium of pathos and humor and vivid imagination is a treasure few possess. It takes work. Matthew Burnside has not only done that work, but delights in it. His prose is imbued with sensations of exquisite, haunting beauty, memories from childhood, enchantments gathered from backyard adventures in which innocence falls prey to the dark tonics of adulthood and whose strange perversities and imperious, murderous intents must be defeated by making it into a game. What kind of game? Doesn’t matter. Let’s say Wittgenstein’s language game. ‘As long as you make it up while you go,’ says Burnside, ‘they can’t touch you.’”
-John Olson, author of Larynx Galaxy
"Postludes is a masterful collection of weaving stories, aphorisms, riffs, heartbeats, that ‘wear their theft-of-night like tourniquets’, ‘redeeming the irredeemable’ through Burnside’s humorous insight of what makes us human. He explores with mesmerizing language, ‘until no room of you is spared and a heart hangs impaled upon the moon.’ Unforgettable and inimitable. Get a copy!"
–Meg Tuite, author of Bound By Blue
"If the postlude concludes a religious service, then Burnside’s Postludes collects the lullabies of those who have wandered away from their own funeral. The predominant vision of his logic remains skeptical to the laws of physics and fiction; both, the writer knows, can be devised on the fly. As Burnside’s characters find themselves in various stages of journey toward radiant transformation, they manage to plant one foot in two, multiple, infinite worlds, yet belong to none. Like the cartoon coyote suspended in midair sprint, these pages sparkle with voices that have long ago outrun the landscape but not their own gravity, which pulls them in all directions simultaneously toward a destination that eludes arrival. Postludes reminds the reader that it is the under-oiled technologies of the human heart that construct our liberation, then offers us a much needed tune-up."
–Nathan Blake, author of Going Home Nowhere and Fast
"Apocalyptic, disturbing, folkloric, and erotic—and yet still, at times, deeply funny—Matthew Burnside’s Postludes is a sprawling, gorgeous epic through which to wander, wide-eyed, as if through a lucid dream, and watch as “Black Rainbows grew and twisted out of the walls like razorblade roses” and “hungry ghosts [shoot] tendrils from the mouth.” From the monomythic “Rules to Win the Game,” which arrives as some hybrid admixture of Monster Squad, The Legend of Zelda, and Saw, to the lodestone “Passengers,” in which we learn that “location is an illusion” because “everything is made of blinks”—including a book—Burnside is a masterful conductor of language in all senses of the word: the magician; the symphonist; the vessel that harnesses electricity, and delivers it to us."
-Sara Eliza Johnson, author of Bone Map
"What a wonder. Matthew Burnside is wild and these brief fictions get at what makes storytelling so grand. These stories are so finely crafted it seems like they haven’t been written at all, but simply exist, like some marvel found locked in a trunk in the attic. Burnside writes like he loves to read. All conventions well in hand, he sets them aflame, shoves them out a window, and jumps out right after."
-Brandi Wells, author of This Boring Apocalypse
"Imagine a world of tattered dolls, drunken villains, toddlers who are also superheroes, sparking galaxies, life-or-death games, and masturbating poets ripped apart and then pasted back together in a cacophonous collage of tragedy and beauty, delights and horrors, and you might get somewhere close to imagining this book. A polyphony of ringing, full-throated prose, Postludes will leave you disturbed, enchanted, and thoroughly dazzled. Matthew Burnside is a dark wizard capable of summoning the most astounding of magics."
-Rachel Yoder, author of Infinite Things All At Once
Matthew Burnside’s work has appeared in Best American Experimental Writing, DIAGRAM, Ninth Letter, Kill Author, PANK, and Pear Noir! among others. He is the author of several chapbooks and numerous digital works. He currently teaches at Wesleyan University and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.