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My father was a potter who fired cups, saucers, and dinner plates out of clay lifted from the banks of the Shenango, a river that runs through our hometown. To demonstrate their toughness he’d drop them on the floor. I mold stories from the same source—except they are more fragile.

Welcome to my site; it introduces you to some of my work, past and current.

Brother Carnival
Red Hen Press, September, 2018

Brother Carnival is one wild ride, not unlike a real carnival. The tale of two brothers who are caught in their anguished dance toward and away from each other…brings to mind Hawthorne as well as Goethe’s Wapurgis Night, and the suite of chapters starting with Holy Schlitz: Mordant. Hilarious. Painful. Satisfying. Bizarre. And in a way, endearing. I applaud this work. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever read and has a strong narrative pull.”

—Geoffrey Clark, author of Two, Two, Lilly-White Boys, Wedding in October, Necessary Deaths, Jackdog Summer, et al.  




Going Dark: Selected Stories
Coffeetown Press, August 2016

“In Going Dark, the drudgery of realism is loosened and the imagination, which is the wellspring of the surreal, then combines unexpected images to produce a state of mental reality of its own. This is Lyrical Surrealism… Going Dark, Selected Stories is a joy to read and you must read it on several levels. Highly recommended for readers who do not believe that literary fiction is a thing of the past.”

Jack Remick, author of Trio of Lost Souls, 2016  


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The World’s Smallest Bible
Red Hen Press, March 2014

“Told in startling, poetic language, The World’s Smallest Bible is an ode to the power of the imagination, as two boys in a Pennsylvania town during WWII sustain each other with stories and fabulist visions. Their struggle with the real world—the war, teachers, their parents—runs though The World’s Smallest Bible like an obbligato. Dennis Must skillfully combines the narrative momentum with lyricism resulting in a novel of extraordinary grace and originality.” 

Thaisa Frank, author of Heidegger’s Glasses, Enchantment, A Brief History of Camouflage, and Sleeping in Velvet


Award-Winning Finalist in the “Fiction: Literary” category of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards.


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Hush Now, Don't Explain
Coffeetown Press,
October 2014


“Dennis Must’s Hush Now, Don’t Explain —a lyrical, impassioned, Biblically-inflected road novel dealing with the adventures of three outcast runaways—goes Barry Gifford’s Wild At Heart one better. Charged with true American grittiness, pathos and glory, and at times veering dangerously close to total despair, Must’s masterpiece lights up the dark sky of contemporary literature like a Fourth of July fireworks display.”

Andrew Wilson, author of The Luzhang Bridges, Across the Bridge of Straw & Fog, and Osai’s Razor

Honorable Mention in the 2016 Eric Hoffer Awards. A finalist in the 2015 International Book Awards

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SHORT STORIES
Oh Don’t Ask Why – 2017 Reissue

“Dennis Must’s splendid new collection Oh, Don’t Ask Why is a worthy successor to Banjo Grease, his first book of stories, and it advances elements from that work: diminution of vitality, dissolution of family, fierce filial loyalties, a mingling of sexual ardor, grief, loss, and spiritual and moral anxiety and ambiguity…”

Geoffrey Clark, author of Two, Two, Lilly-White Boys, Wedding in October, Necessary Deaths, Jackdog Summer, et al.

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Banjo Grease


“Dennis Must’s first collection of short stories is no ordinary debut, but the mature work of a fully accomplished literary artist. Moreover, his originality, his deep irreverence, and his compassion for working-class men and women, parents and children, strivers and seekers of dreams, signal him as an inspired author in a new American grain—a visionary, poet, and realist.”

Tom Jenks, editor (with Raymond Carver) of American Short Story Masterpieces.

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PLAYS
In the late ’60s and early ’70s John Hawkins, a graphic artist, and I collaborated to direct and produce several of my plays Off Off Broadway. Circus Family, our company, was one of many influenced by the work of Antonin Artaud and Jerzy Grotowski, participating in a period of intense experimentation in the American theatre. Images of John Hawkins’ play studies span our four productions—the final one, NIGHTMOTHS, was performed at Westbeth Theatre, Bank Street, Greenwich Village, New York, 1974.
View Selected Images
• Member Authors Guild and PEN, American Center
• Listed in A Directory of American Poets and Fiction Writers.
copyright© 2018 Dennis Must. All rights reserved