Upright Beasts

Stories by Lincoln Michel

October 13, 2015 • 5.5 x 8.25 • 224 Pages • 978-1-56689-418-0

Twenty-one genre-bending stories of bestial transformation, accidental murder, erotically-challenged dictatorship, and other tales of darkness, absurdity, and confusion.

Children go to school long after all the teachers have disappeared, a man manages an apartment complex of attempted suicides, and a couple navigates their relationship in the midst of a zombie attack. In these short stories, we are the upright beasts, doing battle with our darker, weirder impulses as the world collapses around us.

About the Author

Lincoln Michel is the online editor of Electric Literature and the coeditor of Gigantic. His work has appeared in Tin House, NOON, the Believer, American Short Fiction, Pushcart Prize XXXIX, and elsewhere. He was born in Virginia and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired. To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at info@coffeehousepress.org.


“The world presented in Michel’s admirable debut collection is similar to our own, yet twisted just enough to feel strange. . . . Michel frequently knocks his brief bursts of prose out of the park.” —Publishers Weekly

“Lincoln Michel is a master of where literary culture and the internet meet. His recent collection of funny, dark short stories, Upright Beasts, similarly blends worlds and bend rules.” Brooklyn Magazine

“[Upright Beasts creates] a world twisted just enough to feel strange, and defies easy categorization.” Publishers Weekly

“Michel’s stories are often an uncanny combination of sinister and funny, tender and sad. Laura van den Berg calls them ‘mighty surrealist wonders, mordantly funny and fiercely intelligent,’ and many of them will soon be released together in Michel’s first story collection Upright Beasts.” The Millions

“Michel ably handles modes from lyrical to ironic, but he is most comfortable in a purposefully flat stye that reads something like translated Kafka.” New York Times Sunday Book Review

“Some of the stories are remarkable. . . . A strong debut.” Kirkus

“Sometimes hysterically funny and sometimes quietly disturbing, Michel’s visions will appeal to readers looking for a few hours of purposefully unorthodox but refreshingly creative entertainment.” Booklist

“Lincoln Michel is a master of where literary culture and the internet meet. His recent collection of funny, dark short stories, Upright Beasts, similarly blends worlds and bends rules.” Brooklyn Magazine

“Deadpan and life affirming, the stories in this genre-bending debut veer from an apartment complex for the suicidal to a ghostly artists’ colony to the innards of wild things.” O Magazine

“Michel ably handles modes from lyrical to ironic, but he is most comfortable in a purposefully flat style that reads something like translated Kafka.” New York Times Book Review

“The stories are full of monstrous surprises and eerie silences. But who is the real beast? Michel quietly, but unequivocally, leads readers to the answer as he navigates weird tragicomedy of daily life. With zombies. ” Vanity Fair

“It is rare, and refreshing, to see such range in a collection.” Kenyon Review

“There is a bold, unpremeditated feel to Upright Beasts, a debut whose great strength is a changeability that keeps the pages turning as it veers from lucidity to madness and back again.” Colorado Review

“Like a Russell Edson prose poem or Joe Frank monologue, the stories are compelling and the resolutions often left me bewildered but strangely satisfied.” Critical Angst

“The twenty-five stories in this vibrant, bold and often funny book are full of such confusions of time and place. Characters stumble around in the dark, seeking a sense of community, deciding to wrestle with or else secretly indulge their own most beastly instincts. There are stories within stories within stories, and grizzly bears swallowed by sharks that are then swallowed by sperm whales. Upright beasts don’t stay upright for long.” Guernica

“Dark, surreal, and imaginative, Lincoln Michel’s short story collection Upright Beasts is full of surprises at every turn.” BuzzFeed

“Michel captures the strangeness of the suburban South, and the rural wilderness surrounding it, through its chorus of blunt voices. His stories are absurd enough to reel you in, and emotionally honest enough to keep you reading.” HuffPost

“Michel, one of the country’s most respected literary journalists, is also well known for his short stories that defy easy classification. This volume collects 21 of his offbeat tales, dealing with zombies, the apocalypse, and other bizarre, darkly surreal themes.” Men’s Journal

“To write a killer short story . . . is a total miracle. But if you’re some kind deranged monster like Lincoln Michel, you can churn these puppies out in your sleep.” Tor.com

“There was Lincoln Michel’s debut collection Upright Beasts, which collected a variety of modes of dark fiction from the Aickmanesque to the Kafkaesque.” Weird Fiction Review

“[Upright Beasts is] a dark, dreamy spiral into a world mostly like ours, but a few degrees off, and this distance is more than compelling.” The Rumpus

“I was delighted, and still am, at the fact that Michel is so aware of expectations and rules that he is able to break them with such aplomb, and without apology. Upright Beasts is a lovely, finally genreless, collection, and one that is sure to continue finding an eager audience.” The Collagist

“Many writers can show us the known aches in the known ways. I favor those who present new weirdness. Michel does a little of both in this collection. It may be read as the record of a talented writer learning the old procedures before bending them to new purposes.” Green Mountains Review

“Lincoln Michel’s debut collection, Upright Beasts, contains an element of unreality that delights even as it unsettles.” The Rumpus

“Lincoln Michel has brought off a worthy debut in Upright Beasts, a rowdy klatch of stories with a number of winners.” Brooklyn Rail

Upright Beasts, the debut collection from Lincoln Michel, offers numerous windows into the surreal and menacing. . . . It’s impressive, hypnotic work.” Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“Lincoln Michel’s fiction defies genre in often-inventive ways. His first collection involves alien presences, mysterious schools, humans devoured by animals, and much more. If you like your short stories with a heady dose of the surreal and unpredictable, look no further.” Vol. 1 Brooklyn

“[Upright Beasts is] a praiseworthy debut collection. It will haunt you long after the beasts have returned to the shadows.” KGB Bar Lit Magazine

Upright Beasts is an immersive and original book, and Michel’s stories often have a ‘one more bite’ quality. They’re swift, fun to read, and urge readers to compulsively turn the page.” Full Stop

“Lincoln Michel’s short story collection Upright Beasts enthralls with its tales of the surreal and the absurd.” Largehearted Boy

“The imaginative Lincoln Michel presents his bestiary of strange and captivating stories.” Largehearted Boy

“I’ve been waiting for the release of his debut collection of short stories with all the anticipation of a kid standing outside the locked doors of a candy store just before it opens.” —Quivering Pen

“Peculiar deaths, zombie attacks, and apocalyptic events abound in 21 stories that showcase the absurdities of both ordinary and extraordinary human experience. Written with plentiful humor and heart, Michel’s collection is a wry exploration of all the ways in which we—humans—are upright beasts.” BuzzFeed

“Sly, obscure, and beyond terrific.” Fiction Advocate

“A diverse, wonderful collection.” Airborne Aspidistra

“While humble about his talent, it was obvious to everyone in the room that writing is what Michel is meant to do.” Cavalier Daily

“Michel’s writing is both approachable and inspiring. You read [these stories], and you want to write them.” Lawnchair Boys

Upright Beasts is Lincoln Michel’s much anticipated debut story collection, out from the fabulous Coffee House Press.” Masters Review

“Though each story was published previously as a standalone piece, the nuance with which they’ve been organized in the book warps and enhances the reading experience. Some stories lean in the general direction of something resembling reality; others tack strongly toward the surreal.” C-ville

“Weird, whimsical, horrific, romantic—very short stories can make room for some of the strangest, most wonderful things.” Catapult

“Put on your seat belt, it’s a ride towards Lovecraftian country houses and Long Island-like suburbia, to places we know and love and places we dare not think of . . . some of these stories will ignite your imagination, while others will force you to retreat from the real world temporarily. . . . For all of the elements in this collection that make this fiction, there is an absolutely stunning image of what it’s like to be human, to live life and allow it to slip away, as Michel says: ‘Death, in all its myriad incarnations, was, as always, right around the corner.’ . . . It’s not just about how frighteningly close a writer can bring us to our imagination, it’s how close he can bring us to our reality.” Heavy Feather Review

Upright Beasts heralds a fresh, uncompromising voice in literature.” The Man Behind Winkie’s