Get a Grip
Get a Grip was selected as a top 10 Best Baltimore Book of 2015 in the Baltimore City Paper and as one of the Best Books of 2015 in Baltimore Magazine. In 2016, it won the short story category of the International Book Awards, the Best Book Awards, and the National Indie Excellence Awards.
The stories in Get a Grip depict a range of imagined lives. There are Estonian brothers trekking from their blighted neighborhood to a college interview. There’s a TV meteorite hunter in town to search for otherworldly treasure. We meet a widow addicted to physical pain and a successful ad executive who loses all his worldly possessions in one day. All of the characters work out their struggles in a partly real and partly imagined Baltimore, channeling, in turns, its charm, its despair, its humor, its self-doubt, its compassion. Get a Grip is a book about who we are when the cameras are off and the phone has died.
"Kathy Flann has created a beautiful work of art, populated by characters who are full of love, fear, loss, courage, and redemption. A brilliant collection, Flann's work restores my hope in humanity and makes me feel more truly alive." --Julianna Baggott, author of Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders, a New York Times Notable Book of 2015
"There's a touch of Barry Hannah's cosmic what-the-fuckness running through Flann's short-story collection, the way an intimate scene's humor or horror depends on the point of view. From the woman whose husband died in flagrante with a prostitute to the teacher who gets a hard-on every time he sees his ex-wife in the cafeteria, these eight Baltimore-set stories dive into the lives of people a little bit desperate. Flann animates their responses to such crises with a merciless humanity, and whether you're laughing or crying with the results, you always feel a little empathy and a little, well, unclean." -- Baltimore City Paper
“Kathy Flann’s Get a Grip is a collection of short stories featuring tales with a strong sense of place (for Flann, Baltimore, Maryland) and believable characters in the midst of struggles with identity, relationships and often devastating circumstances…. Reaching the end of the collection, I felt a sort of disappointment creeping in at the edge of my psyche: not with the stories themselves, but with the notion that the reading was finished, which meant that I would cease interacting with such cleverly imagined characters….” --The Literary Review
“These ailments — the neuropathy, the infections, the possible hairline fractures — outwardly manifest for Flann's stunted, afflicted characters an inner fear that they will never again be loved. So much is at stake here….. As they struggle with their dilemmas, these despondent though often hilarious characters become more human for their flaws.” –Minneapolis Star Tribune
“I'd liken the magnetism of these stories to that of a YouTube reel of BMX wipeouts: painful to watch and yet strangely comic as they unfold, braiding both random bad fortune and intimations of inevitability. The slow-motion spills in Get a Grip are certainly more choreographed than an incidental meeting between a human knee and six linear feet of gravel and asphalt, but readers will be too absorbed in Flann's direct and emotionally perceptive prose to peek around for crash pads or strings.”--Carve Magazine
"Kathy Flann writes about Baltimore; all of the characters inside of Get A Grip know Baltimore and breathe it. They might not represent the whole of the city—Baltimore contains multitudes after all—but the subsection that they capture are represented well. They are well off, they are dissatisfied with their success, they are alienated from their family, their friends and themselves. When you read these characters’ stories, you know that Flann knows her audience well..... When you’re finished Get A Grip, you wonder if you truly know how to speak the language of your soul. You spend time thinking about the choices you’ve made, the choices you’ve failed to make, why you have or have not made them. Are you content? Do you just think you are? These are big questions, bigger than you’re prepared to answer, but you’re grateful that a book of short fiction can get you to even think them. You feel melancholy, like your heart has a toothache, but also hopeful. Melanhope. It’s a new feeling." -- Michael Tager, JMWW