Bearded Women: Stories

by Teresa Milbrodt | :: Jump to Buy Links ::

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Welcome to the contemporary Freak Show. A woman trying to have a child has a parasitic twin, an extra lower torso, and set of legs named Bianca—should she have Bianca’s Body removed to improve her chances at conception? A bearded lady considers coming out of the closet about her hirsute nature, while carrying on a battle of wills with an overeating patron in Mr. Chicken. A woman with four ears gets a chance to make extra money as the mascot of a tattoo parlour, and encounters a middle-aged, cookie-baking stalker who believes she is a sign that the end of the world is nigh. Meet the freaks—they’re mothers, wives, and lovers: all of them trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ISBN: 9781926851464
eISBN: 9781927469026


Interviews/Guest Posts


Praise for Teresa Milbrodt

“[Bearded Women] takes human characteristics which we would normally associate with ‘freak shows’ and weds them to narratives about ‘normal’ human problems. It’s a brilliant conceit—and Milbrodt executes it so well that the reader finds him/herself following each story not with the voyeur’s eye to the main character’s ‘otherness’ but with the sympathy/empathy that we would show to anyone we encountered who was struggling with problems that we’ve either faced and solved ourselves or helped friends or family members face and solve.”
Scholars & Rogues

“The bizarre aspects of the characters in the stories of Bearded Women serve a particular function, to help us to look closely. Because the narrator in ‘Bianca’s Body’ has a lower torso with sexual organs sticking out of her abdomen, we pay closer attention to the dilemma she faces. Consciously or not, we analyze much more deeply than we would if the narrator had nothing odd about her. In this way, Milbrodt is able to present us universal problems in a way that seems absolutely fresh and new.”
PANK Magazine

“The stories are grounded in literary realism, then crack the boundaries of the form and launch into magical realist dimensions . . . firmly establishing Milbrodt as a premier writer, and maybe the founder, of Midwestern mythic.”
Oxford American

“Milbrodt grounds the extraordinary inside a framework that forces the reader to look away from the freak-show qualities of a single-eyed girl and instead focus on how one would cope with that situation. The payoff is quiet and poignant, but powerful in unexpectedly ways because the oddity of the protagonist’s appearance does not single her out as much as it makes us all too aware of the frustrations, dashed hopes, and resigned sighs that we all experience in our lives, especially for those of us who feel stuck in dead-end jobs or stagnant relationships.”
OF Blog

“ChiZine Publications delivers a phenomenal collection with Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women. . . . Milbrodt’s writing is akin to that of Carol Emshwiller or Karen Russell (Swamplandia!). The most outré beings and events are presented with matter-of-fact mimetic clarity and emotional empathy.”
Asimov’s

“Dehumanized by a world which has used their oddities for entertainment purposes, the women in Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories challenge our thoughts on genetic variances and humanity and how we view our own selves. With wit and charm, she beautifully weaves short stories about women who are as real as we, who are strong in the presence of adversity, and whose only desire is to live their lives, embracing those aspects which make them so different than those around them. These stories of women cause us to examine our own thoughts and challenge the big top freak spectacular.”
Living Peacefully With Children

“Freakish in mind or body they may be, but Milbrodt’s characters have the same problems as everyone else. . . . The characters are worth knowing, and the insight they provide into unusual lives is worth pondering.”
Tzer Island

“[Bearded Women] was beautifully written but it had this strange, lyrical feel to it. The thing I loved about this novel was that even though each of the short stories contained a ‘freak’ per se, their emotions and feelings of being different were relatable, tangible and so very real.”
Chasing Empty Pavements


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Amazon U.K.