Karen Brown grew up in Connecticut. Her stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories, among other publications. Her first book, Pins and Needles: Stories, won AWP's Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction. She teaches at the University of South Florida, in Tampa.
You can learn more about Karen by visiting her website KarenBrownBooks.com.
In Pins and Needles, Karen Brown explores love and loss between mother and child, husband and wife, close friends, and virtual strangers. In many of these stories, Brown shows how love emerges as infidelity-incongruous and disruptive, threatening the stability of daily life.
In "She Fell to Her Knees", Nell inherits the neglected house in which her mother died years before, and begins an affair with the neighbor. The narrator of "Apparitions," who has recently returned the blind grandson she was raising to the care of his mother, invites a confused young man into her home. In "The Ropewalk," a bartender haunted by her abandonment of her own child aids a customer in a struggle for custody of her daughters. A pregnant teenager in "Unction" comes to accept the reality of her situation while working a summer job counting parts in a bookbinding machine shop, and a woman on vacation at the Connecticut shore experiences the drowning of a boy and the disintegration of a relationship in "Breach." Annie, the young mother with a tragic past in "Pins and Needles," leaves her infant daughter to go on an errand in a snowstorm, and picks up a boy she doesn't know.
What remains a constant in the stories is the tangible presence of the natural world-ice dripping into the sand, little girls' painted fingernails, jacaranda petals on black asphalt, oily parts in metal bins, arms slipped from the sleeves of a leotard, a dishwasher's cough. Each story moves toward the moment in which these characters, navigating loss, learn acceptance. Like the single mother in "Destiny," they see their lives happen-"all around, just then, forever."
Editor David Warner of Creative Loafing said some kind and encouraging words on page 26 of the August 26, 2009, issue. Partial quote, "At a moment when ignorance is being aggressively defended, Deep Carnivale still respects our intelligence. Imagine that."
Esther Martinez, in a story at The Florida Book Review" says she knows "Deep Carnivale will be 'A Celebration of Words' and not a Bourbon Street bacchanal."
"But logophile that I am, I reason I'll get drunk on language. With over 70 writers and artists scheduled [for the 2008 Carnivale] to perform or read from their works, my beaded necklaces will be strung with verse. I imagine haiku shooters..."
"It is just before 10am when I arrive at the corner of Palm Avenue and 14th StreetóDeep Carnivale ground zero. About a dozen vendor tables are lined up around the Hillsborough Community College courtyard where a band of teenagers [Next Exit] are setting up their instruments."The vendor tables sell books by local writers, HCC publications and baked goods. I grab a Cuban favorite, papa rellena, a potato stuffed with savory ground beef. Belly satisfied, I cross the street and enter the historic Circulo Cubano. A nearly 100 year old neo-classical building of ionic columns and marble staircases, it served as the Cuban Social Club and remains the oldest building of its kind in the country."
"When I look back over 2008, my visit to the second edition of Deep Carnivale was a
highlight. You and your staff did a great job and I loved being part of it, again.
I am sure there will be bigger festivals to come. But maybe not better!!!"
– Darrell House, children's book author and 2008 Deep Carnivale presenter.