Bearded Women

ISBN: 9781927469026
eISBN: 9781926851464

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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.

Reviews of Bearded Women:

[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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[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.

eShorts

These single stories from this collection are available for individual purchase:

Mothers by Teresa Milbrodt

A young woman whose mother and auntie were conjoined twins tries to accept their recent passing and mend her relationship with her womanizing younger brother. From Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories, this tale is one in a “phenomenal collection” (Asimov’s Science Fiction) of short fiction about the so-called “freaks” trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) curates the best of the bizarre, bringing you the most excitingly weird, subtle, dark, and disturbing literary fiction. Look for more titles in the ChiZine short stories co

$0.99

Things I've Been Meaning to Tell You by Teresa Milbrodt

A high school boy falls in love with the bearded girl at his school, fighting for her honor despite the fact she doesn’t need much help. From Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories, this tale is one in a “phenomenal collection” (Asimov’s Science Fiction) of short fiction about the so-called “freaks” trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) curates the best of the bizarre, bringing you the most excitingly weird, subtle, dark, and disturbing literary fiction. Look for more titles in the ChiZine short stories collection to build your

$0.99

Holes by Teresa Milbrodt

After her parents’ trailer blows up and her father goes crazy, an eighteen-year-old girl decides to follow the path of her sideshow-performer grandfather. She gets holes made in her hands, and becomes a traveling human fountain. From Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories, this tale is one in a “phenomenal collection” (Asimov’s Science Fiction) of short fiction about the so-called “freaks” trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) curates the best of the bizarre, bringing you the most excitingly weird, subtle, dark, and disturbing

$0.99

Skin by Teresa Milbrodt

A woman with ichthyosis, a skin condition in which dead skin cells are slow to flake off, tries to negotiate peace between her two daughters. One daughter shares her condition and one does not, leading to allegations of favoritism. From Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories, this tale is one in a “phenomenal collection” (Asimov’s Science Fiction) of short fiction about the so-called “freaks” trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) curates the best of the bizarre, bringing you the most excitingly weird, subtle, dark, and disturb

$0.99

To Fill by Teresa Milbrodt

A failed pastel artist launches a career on the competitive eating circuit, much to the chagrin of her insurance agent husband. From Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories, this tale is one in a “phenomenal collection” (Asimov’s Science Fiction) of short fiction about the so-called “freaks” trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) curates the best of the bizarre, bringing you the most excitingly weird, subtle, dark, and disturbing literary fiction. Look for more titles in the ChiZine short stories collection to build your digital

$0.99

Markings by Teresa Milbrodt

An elderly tattooed woman tries to care for her belligerent older sister who has been paralyzed by a stroke and is embarrassed about her lack of independence. From Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories, this tale is one in a “phenomenal collection” (Asimov’s Science Fiction) of short fiction about the so-called “freaks” trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) curates the best of the bizarre, bringing you the most excitingly weird, subtle, dark, and disturbing literary fiction. Look for more titles in the ChiZine short stories co

$0.99

Butterfly Women by Teresa Milbrodt

A woman with skin flap “wings” (that make her look rather like a flying squirrel) confronts the benefits and drawbacks of her gift. From Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories, this tale is one in a “phenomenal collection” (Asimov’s Science Fiction) of short fiction about the so-called “freaks” trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) curates the best of the bizarre, bringing you the most excitingly weird, subtle, dark, and disturbing literary fiction. Look for more titles in the ChiZine short stories collection to build your digi

$0.99

Three by Teresa Milbrodt

A three-legged man who worked in a sideshow for many years tries to negotiate his adult daughter's alcoholism, as well as her disapproval for an art show that will feature paintings of him naked. From Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories, this tale is one in a “phenomenal collection” (Asimov’s Science Fiction) of short fiction about the so-called “freaks” trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) curates the best of the bizarre, bringing you the most excitingly weird, subtle, dark, and disturbing literary fiction. Look for more t

$0.99

Combust by Teresa Milbrodt

A woman tries to heal the relationship between her invalid mother, adult sister, and absentee father. In the process she starts spontaneously catching fire. From Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories, this tale is one in a “phenomenal collection” (Asimov’s Science Fiction) of short fiction about the so-called “freaks” trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) curates the best of the bizarre, bringing you the most excitingly weird, subtle, dark, and disturbing literary fiction. Look for more titles in the ChiZine short stories col

$0.99

Ears by Teresa Milbrodt

A woman with four ears has a chance to make extra money as the mascot of a tattoo parlor. She must make a choice between money and pride, while combating a neighbor who is certain she's a sign of the second coming. From Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories, this tale is one in a “phenomenal collection” (Asimov’s Science Fiction) of short fiction about the so-called “freaks” trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) curates the best of the bizarre, bringing you the most excitingly weird, subtle, dark, and disturbing literary fict

$0.99

Seventeen Episodes in the Life of a Giant by Teresa Milbrodt

A giantess who works on an office supply store and lives with her mother tries to find love and independence and connect with her long-dead father who was also a giant. From Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories, this tale is one in a “phenomenal collection” (Asimov’s Science Fiction) of short fiction about the so-called “freaks” trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) curates the best of the bizarre, bringing you the most excitingly weird, subtle, dark, and disturbing literary fiction. Look for more titles in the ChiZine short

$0.99

Snakes by Teresa Milbrodt

A lower-middle-class gorgon makes ends meet bartending, while studying for a college degree and tending to a head full of snakes. From Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories, this tale is one in a “phenomenal collection” (Asimov’s Science Fiction) of short fiction about the so-called “freaks” trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) curates the best of the bizarre, bringing you the most excitingly weird, subtle, dark, and disturbing literary fiction. Look for more titles in the ChiZine short stories collection to build your digita

$0.99

Cyclops by Teresa Milbrodt

A woman with one eye in the center of her forehead wears a crescent-shaped sunglasses lens to hide that secret from everyone but her parents and her optometrist. She works at the family coffee shop, making drinks and trying to corral her headstrong father. From Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories, this tale is one in a “phenomenal collection” (Asimov’s Science Fiction) of short fiction about the so-called “freaks” trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) curates the best of the bizarre, bringing you the most excitingly weird,

$0.99

Mr. Chicken by Teresa Milbrodt

A bearded woman who conceals that fact by shaving works as the manager of a fast food restaurant. When her restaurant is plagued by an imposing fat man, she must figure out how to make him leave or risk losing customers. From Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories, this tale is one in a “phenomenal collection” (Asimov’s Science Fiction) of short fiction about the so-called “freaks” trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) curates the best of the bizarre, bringing you the most excitingly weird, subtle, dark, and disturbing literar

$0.99

The Shell by Teresa Milbrodt

Martin Wyss carves artistic caskets, and is commissioned by Odessa Crouch who wants to be buried in a purple scallop shell. Odessa comes to “test” the casket and announces her imminent plans to die, so Martin must decide how to extract her from his workshop. From Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories, this tale is one in a “phenomenal collection” (Asimov’s Science Fiction) of short fiction about the so-called “freaks” trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) curates the best of the bizarre, bringing you the most excitingly weird

$0.99

Bianca's Body by Teresa Milbrodt

A woman with a parasitic twin, an extra lower torso and set of legs named Bianca, must decide whether to have Bianca removed so she has a chance to conceive a child. From Teresa Milbrodt’s Bearded Women: Stories, this tale is one in a “phenomenal collection” (Asimov’s Science Fiction) of short fiction about the so-called “freaks” trying negotiate a world that is quicker to stare than sympathize.

ChiZine Publications (CZP) curates the best of the bizarre, bringing you the most excitingly weird, subtle, dark, and disturbing literary fiction. Look for more titles in the ChiZine short sto

$0.99

Other Reviews

goodreads 4.09/5 stars more...

Author Info

Teresa Milbrodt grew up in Bowling Green, Ohio, where she developed an odd affinity for Midwestern flatness and gray skies. She received her MFA in Creative Writing and her MA in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University, and was then permitted to move to the Rocky Mountains. She is the author of a short story collection, Bearded Women: Stories.

Milbrodt's stories have appeared in Nimrod, North American Review, Crazyhorse, Natural Bridge, Indiana Review, The Cream City Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and New Orleans Review, among other literary journals. Several of her stories have also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado, where she lives with her husband Tristan and cat Aspen. She is still adjusting to absurdly sunny January days.