stephanie dickinson

Girl Behind the Door
2017, Rain Mountan Press, memoir

Girl Behind the Door opens with the renegade Iowa farm girl who ran away to New York City to be a writer returning home to find her dying, nearly 100-year-old mother lying naked on a bed in the Memory Care Unit of a nursing home. Despite the haunting beauty of Dickinson’s language, naked is possibly the best way to describe her prose. Naked emotion. Naked observation. The warts and the pimples of living presented with the same intensity and honesty as the finely curved hips and thick auburn hair that give life its pleasure. No one writes like Stephanie Dickinson, except maybe God.

Alice Jurish

The great state of Iowa has raised many chickens, but Stephanie Dickinson sure as rain isn’t one of them. Bravely tackling the complex nature of the mother-daughter relationship through all of its peaks and valleys, Dickinson’s memorable prose will by turns amuse you, wrench your heart, and curl your toes. Dickinson provides us with a panoply of object lessons; most notably, how, at the moments that really count, rebelliousness turns to tenderness and we tightly clutch our familial cords and connections, even while butting heads with them. In Girl Behind the Door, we learn that the landscape from which this fiercely passionate writer hails possesses the best soil on earth, and Stephanie Dickinson has dug deeply into the muck and mire to unearth her past—and, in doing so, ours.

Cindy Hochman, author of Habeas Corpus

As a teenager she decided to fly. Her mother’s old Rambler with her at the wheel crested the hill, with grave consequences. In Girl Behind the Door, Stephanie Dickinson flies on every page. What a book! A delicious memoir, or deathwatch, in which death dies. Florence, her mother, lives. Iowa lives, all “the gone ones.” We know her childhood better than we know our own, the Bureshes and Teleckys better than our own relatives. A read with moist eyes. Unflagging emotion and exquisite clarity, incredible candor and perspicacity, her signature poetry. It is brave, naked as her dementia mother. Our eyes are wet and our hearts are full. It is a farewell that makes you hungry for life. She heaps our plates.

Jill Hoffman, author of Jilted and No Other Way

Girl Behind the Door - $15.00
Flashlight Girls Run
2017, New Meridian Arts, short stories

Stephanie Dickinson writes with the beauty of a wounded angel. The protagonists in these eleven stories are achingly real, so natural that they craft their own lives. Most, but not all, are women; most, but not all, are young. Each has met humanity’s dark underbelly—through war, predation, neglect, the crueler vagaries of family—and felt the jagged elbows of alienation. And yet, like the Flashlight Girls Run of the title, they power on with a particular awkward grace that makes these stories hard to put down, and impossible to forget. Gorgeous, heartbreaking, empowering stuff!

Susan O’Neill, author of Don’t Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Vietnam

Each story in Flashlight Girls Run digs deeply and honestly into the feelings of her characters. It delves into essences of ourselves to which we feel but lack words. In lyrical cadences, Stephanie Dickinson gives voice to love and tenderness amidst the setbacks of broken dreams, broken hearts, and broken bodies. A must read!

Henya Drescher, author

In this collection of stories Stephanie Dickinson brilliantly gives life to characters we rarely see in fiction— damaged vets, abandoned and crippled children, young women in precarious traps —by creating the small, perfect details that reveal their hopes and dreams.

Sarah McElwain, author, editor

Flashlight Girls Run - $18.00
Available from New Meridian Arts
The Emily Fables
2016, ELJ Editions, fiction

All of Stephanie Dickinson's works are about language: taut, urgent, effervescent. Her extraordinary talent shimmies in the daylight of her paged ruminations, in the night of her haunting revelations. Reading Stephanie Dickinson is like being thrown back in time to a more careful, more erudite, era of writing rising off the wings of a brilliance seldom seen these days; maybe it's because her 'Emily' pieces speak of that gentler time. Yet next to Annie Dillard, I'm not sure I've met Dickinson's contemporary equal. Her works are all about the lucid, arresting turns of phrase that make language as surprising and re-readable as it should be.

Chila Woychik, essayist and editor of Eastern Iowa Review
In The Emily Fables, Dickinson’s writing changes the body/the being of anyone tough enough to read what she writes, how it makes that person gasp, makes that person's throat catch, heart skip skip a beat as word after word she nails something that has never before been nailed. She discovers for the reader something that before had no existence on the map of daily human beings and marks it out as a new a roadway. There Dickinson is, machete in hand, pick on the ground beside her, cutting a trail, digging out a byway, pointing out landmark after landmark along the way.”

Allen Brafman, author of Stone Feathers
“Danger is always palpably present in The Emily Fables. It travels with us as we follow Emily’s journey that geographically takes us no farther than the four corners of an Iowa farm. It is the un-nerving that we can’t shake. Sometimes we feel it is a spirit that lives within the narrator, a dybuk, that shares her mind, strums her emotions with its willful dissonances. It is a lyrical trip with a fallen angel and we wonder how she came to fall.”

Rosemary De Angelis, Director, New York Drama Desk Award Winning Actress

The Emily Fables - $16.99

Available from ELJ BookNook


Love Highway
2015, Spuyten Duyvil, novel

Cover photo: Nava Renek


In order to know love, we must know its absence. This duality sets the stage of Stephanie Dickinson’s potent new novel, Love Highway. Nylah is smart but naïve, capable but insecure. She is drunk. She is being followed. Trinity is downtrodden but hopeful, distracted but street-smart. She is trapped. She is caught in the middle. These two women, love-injured and longing, are fading into the same gritty gray scenery. Their cravings are drawn with precise, cutting lines that pierce the vibrancy of love itself—bold, scenic and memorable. Love Highway is about those who feed on others’ hunger and the value of looking within, no matter how painful.

Jen Knox, author of Don’t Tease the Elephants

If you take a real crime, the Jennifer Moore murder, add the imagination, insight and humanity of Stephanie Dickinson, you have Love Highway. It’s as if Stephanie not only has access to diaries of real characters, but to their actual thought processes. Despite knowing the outcome, it’s suspenseful and reads as if it’s happening in real time. Halfway through I had to put the book down for a while--it felt too real, too harrowing, although not at all gory. And after putting it down it still stuck to me. Her fictionalization, based on the actual, realizes its emotional truth. Be forewarned, you can’t swallow this book, it’s too powerful. Like all truly great art, you’ve got to let it swallow you.

Ted Jonathan, author of Bones & Jokes

Love Highway by Stephanie Dickinson is a sensual and treacherous novel about desire and memory.  Set in New York City and its outskirts, she gives us the shiny girls who will risk everything to be part of what they’ve been brainwashed into believing is bright and essential.  Dickinson has a dense, lyrical prose style that infiltrates the senses like a walk through a hot-house full of lilies.  In turns both exciting and shattering, this story unfolds silken with the worms still working the cloth.

Susan Tepper, author of The Merrill Diaries


Love Highway - $18.00

Available from Spuyten Duyvil or


An Interview with Jean Seberg
2013, New Michigan Press, essay

Cover artwork: Jill Hoffman


Jean Seberg by Jill HoffmanIn Heat: An Interview with Jean Seberg, Stephanie Dickinson becomes the voice of a legendary movie star and the last All-American girl Jean Seberg. Written as a fictional interview, no question is off-limits (French husbands, love with a Black Panther, alcoholism, death of a child, suicide). The imaginary answers are real and haunting as they pull you into a fascinating world of the 1960s. Dickinson skillfully draws on her own Midwestern childhood and with heart-rending imagery gives us a portrait of a dreamy teenager in Marshalltown who "watched the bluegill bite the hook's surprise," a girl who could never shrug off her small-town roots even as she embraced the Paris life of celebrity. Every page is a story, an inner dialogue, a provocative meditation on Hollywood that is "no Babylonian Talmud," on beauty that "isn't a marzipan cookie," on destiny "you're whatever the script asks, lily or green toad." Dickinson has written a book of such depth, knowledge and sensitivity that it should be considered the star's authorized biography because had Jean Seberg read this she would have cried with joy at the prospect of finally being understood.

Marina Rubin, author of Stealing Cherries, Logic and Ode to Hotels

Life's an existential journey for Jean Seberg. It's not easy being a seething adolescent sex-pot, a free-love heroine of French New Wave films and Black Panthers, a mother, not to mention Joan of Arc burning at a funeral pyre under the direction of Otto Preminger. A film director or critic cuts through the fine façade between life onstage and off -- killing and resurrecting. "What's real is make-believe..." just as this interview is. Dickinson's great talent lies not in writing about Jean Seberg but in occupying that space between her spirit and her flesh. Dickinson speaks Seberg, sees Seberg, savors the humiliation of brutish critics until it sours, has felt heavy make up melting on her face, heard the sobs of butterflies alighting in her body's crevices, felt the heat rise from her torched costume, been trapped in a sack, taken to the anvil, hammered. Even then, says Seberg-Dickinson, "I'm deep in the sky. Alive."

Maria Lisella, author of Two Naked Feet, Amore on Hope St. and Thieves in the Family

Read an EXCERPT at the Pithead Chapel website where it was voted 'Best of the Net'.

An Interview With Jean Seberg- $9.00
Available from New Michigan Press or

Port Authority Orchids
2013, Rain Mountain Press
A novel in stories for young adults

Cover photo: Lawrence Applebaum


This enigmatic Carve classic “Hybrid” by Stephanie Dickinson, follows thirteen-year-old prodigy Dalloway as she spends Easter vacation with her father and grandmother in Manhattan. Both father and grandmother constantly hog the spotlight, leaving Dalloway feeling largely invisible. (Those familiar with her namesake from Virginia Woolf’s novel may remember that Clarissa Dalloway, too, “had the oddest sense of herself being invisible”). Dalloway also has a preoccupation with hybrid animals and likens her family to them (her transgendered father being a cross between male and female; and her grandmother, having just undergone cosmetic surgery, being a cross between young and old). As Dalloway soon learns, she is consubstantial with her father and grandmother. She is nothing but a domesticated hybrid in the wilderness that is New York City. Just as the protected existence of Woolf’s Clarissa Dalloway had left her ignorant of the experience of the lower classes, so too is the Dalloway of this story ignorant of life outside her bubble. Bolstering this offbeat cautionary tale throughout is its gimlet humor. Dickinson also limns so well the frightening and majestic backdrop of New York, the “sexiest address in the world.” Thanks to Dickinson’s mesmerizing narrative, it’s easy for the reader to get lost in the city, even if just on the page.

Matthew Limpede, editor, Carve

Port Authority Orchids is a coming-of-age narrative that is by turns humorous, quirky, and tragic.  Stephanie Dickinson offers the reader New York as seen by Dalloway, a precocious and idealistic teenage girl with a fractured, eccentric family in constant metamorphosis. Dickinson's eye for detail and narrative style entice the reader to sit up, look and listen for the next beautifully crazy scene.  One of the many characters that stands out is the brazen, redwoodesque Great Aunt Dorna of "Sonic Ear," an elderly version of Astrid Lindgren's ultrafeminist Pippi Longstocking with an endless supply not of golden coins from a treasure chest, but of expensive sets of flatware and tableware that she offers, piece by piece, as currency. Dorna is the adult role model Dalloway deserves; together, they take on all those who would usurp or brutalize women on the streets. I am thrilled to see this collection of stories together at last.

Bonnie Ditlevsen, editor, Penduline

Port Authority Orchids - $15.00

lust series
2011, Spuyten Duyvil Press
Prose Poems

Cover Artwork: Jill Hoffman


What a wonderful reading experience this is!  In each of these brightly illuminated texts, we seem to have been air-dropped into a narrative whose details quickly establish themselves and fall into place as hints of a story break through the mesh of images. Stephanie Dickinson’s intuitive sense of drama finds expression in physical, sensual language that points to the origins
of what has led up to the moment described in each short account. While the language shifts
with the moods, the intensity never lets up.  

David Chorlton

Visceral.  Ecstatic.  Language shimmers beneath the pen Stephanie Dickinson hones to a blade, wields like a knife: shank in the hands of the innocent prisoner who’s survived every enemy; scalpel in the grasp of a surgeon who knows that to save is to excise the rot.  The immense power infusing all of Dickinson’s work is that she writes like her life depends on it; she’s the
anointed girl “rambling from roof to roof sweating starlight,” giving voice to the runaway and raped, the stalker and stalked, the imprisoned, kidnapped, deformed and deranged, nature run riot, run rot.  She gives voice to the women taken in by the men “who talk a three-tier wedding cake,” the little deer (who tells of her killer), “He unfleshes my bones and says that
he’s dressing me.” Dickinson’s heart is expansive, her empathy unbound as she embraces the lives of both the innocent and their aggressors.  In this beautiful book, Stephanie Dickinson masterfully gives witness to all of us finding ourselves at the mercy of our lusts. 

Catherine Sasanov

Lust Series - $10.00
Available in paperback from Spuyten Duyvil Press or 99 cents Kindle version from


2008, Spuyten Duyvil, novel

Cover Artwork: Christopher Cardinale


In her debut novel, the aptly-named Stephanie Emily Dickinson (who also reminds me of a female Tennessee Williams) gives us Angelique, a sort of hitch-hiking Lolita, and somehow makes her heart break in the reader’s chest. Half Girl is 100% thrilling, harrowing, beautiful, and unforgettable.

Jennifer Belle, author of Going Down and High Maintenance

Stephanie Dickinson’s novel, Half Girl, pulls you under at once, and when you come up for air, you are astounded to be in the same room where you began. Each sentence is a surprise—a trip in the mind of a sharply sensual and adventurous girl who is leaving home and immediately finding danger in cold, lonely places. You read in fear of what might happen to her, but also with a blind faith in her hopeful determination.

Meredith Sue Willis, author of In the Mountains of America, Space Apart, Higher Ground, and Only Great Changes

Incisive and insightful doesn’t begin to describe the writing of Stephanie Dickinson. She has lived her work and enables her work to live in us. I don’t hesitate to say that long after many other writers have faded, Stephanie Emily Dickinson will be right there. Her namesake would be proud.

Chocolate Waters, Charting New Waters, Take Me Like a Photograph, a pioneer in the art of performance poetry, NEA fellow


Half Girl - $14.00

Corn Goddess
2007, Rain Mountain Press, poetry

Cover Artwork: Doug Dorph


Corn Goddess speaks to the sacred teenage time when a body blossoms and is maimed, about prairie and ramshackle farms and desolate cow lanes, the dirt’s remembering of recluses and long ago animal sex, about mothers, those angry and strong Midwestern women who feed their daughters the bone soup of self-hatred, and fathers who hunt the silver foxes running through farm girls’ imaginations. Corn Goddess describes the struggle to escape the seduction of gunnysacks and summer afternoons spent lying on cut hay after the balers have been through, of green corn and mystery growing in every direction, a fecund claustrophobia, and the darkness encountered once the wider world is found.

Corn Goddess - $10.00

5 Churches
2006, Rain Mountain Press, stories

Cover Artwork: Michael Weston


In this debut collection of short stories told in lush, humid prose the protagonists are all young women, many of them teens, trying to survive the extreme situation. There is Hatchet, accused by her Lakota brethren of being an FBI informer; Trout, a fundamentalist Christian with four children and another on the way; Kimchee, a Korean orphan; and Jasmina, imported from the Balkans for the sex trade. In “Fire Maidens, ’57,” Monarch helps her father sick from the radioactive “death dust” kill himself. This is the above ground atomic bomb testing Nevada of the 1950s. “A Lynching in Stereoscope” is told in two first person accounts.

Ciz and Jelly weave an interlocking narrative of a woman lynched in 1930s Arkansas and a home health aide who discovers that the elderly brother and sister she’s caring for did more than witness the event as children. In the title story “Road of Five Churches,” two grifters, a mother and daughter who wander the south selling bogus vacuum sweepers, are revealed to be a grown missing toddler and the woman who abducted her. “Amiga Mom from Planet Iraq” tells the homecoming of Sgt. Bethany Telecky, a disabled Iraq War Veteran, whose job was detonating bombs in a country wanting to “blow itself up into smaller and smaller bits of dirt and dust.” She loses her left arm and part of her face in an IED explosion. An intense, lively read, often darkly humorous, these stories never fail to lyrically entertain.


The Short Review
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