Some as short as a paragraph, others only a few pages, each of the stories in Designs for a Magician’s Top Hat conjures a world entire, pregnant with magic, humor, curiosity, and deep feeling. Their author finds trap doors in tales we’ve traversed a hundred times, and moral murkiness in those we’d thought were crystalline. The collection’s greatest magic trick, though, is perhaps its ability to empathize with such a vast array of characters: parentless children or the lovelorn and then, just as easily, the unlikeliest of creatures, like a housefly, or a Honda engine.


Here is a talent that familiarizes the strange and stranges the familiar with delight, aplomb, and a bottomless love for this world. I’m honored to have made this writer’s introduction, and thrilled to share their writing with all of you.

Sarah Gerard, guest judge, author of True Love and Sunshine State


Limited-run first edition available from Yemassee at the University of South Carolina