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.

MacLeish Sq.
Red Hen Press, November 2022

MacLeish Sq. approaches mythic status in which time, character, past, present, alive, dead—just a few of the literary polarities inhabiting this writing—interact at a level no reader can accept without relinquishing his/her own sense of person and being. Interweaving Dante, Melville, Hawthorne, and Pirandello into a single narrative that seizes the essence of each, Must puts them together with such skill that the author lives on par with the masters. It will take an honest reader to admit—I have never read anything like this.”

Jack Remick, author of Gabriela and the Widow


For the past twenty-five years, Jack Smith, prize-winning novelist and founding editor of the nationally recognized literary journal GHLL, has been committed indefatigably to enriching the reader’s understanding by reviewing books of small press authors he has deemed deserving for their contributions to literature.

As one of the 15 fortunate beneficiaries of Smith’s insightful analyses comprising this book, I remain grateful to him for including reviews of the following works of mine: The World’s Smallest Bible, Hush Now, Don’t Explain, Brother Carnival, Banjo Grease, Oh, Don’t Ask Why, and Going Dark.

Banjo Grease, Selected Stories
Red Hen Press, November 2019

Banjo Grease, by Dennis Must, returned November 2019! We’re happy to bring this classic Dennis Must short story collection back into print with a revitalized cover to match the rest of our Dennis Must collection.

—Red Hen Press, Pasadena, CA


Brother Carnival
Red Hen Press, December 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  




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.



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


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.




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.



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.

• Member Authors Guild and PEN, American Center
• Listed in A Directory of American Poets and Fiction Writers.
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