Place Published: Braddock, PA
Publisher: Braddock Avenue Books
Date Published: May 2023
The stories in Michael Czyzniejewski’s new collection showcase a menagerie of personalities: the Bigamist, the Pyromaniac, the Nihilist, among others—all of whom reveal a moment of existential crisis. This is not a question of “How the world works” or “How best to live” but “What happens when life leads us to the edge of understanding.” In “The Hemophiliac Engages the Glass Eater,” this unlikely relationship pushes the couple to re-imagine their lives not only for the sake of love, but also for changing how they think of themselves as people. In “The Atheist Reconsiders,” the protagonist, sure that God does not exist, is thrown into crisis when aliens visit Earth wearing something that looks suspiciously like a Crucifix. And in the title story, “Amnesiac in the Maze,” the Amnesiac, having lost his long-term memory, loses himself in a farmer’s corn maze, not because he can’t escape, but because maybe he doesn’t want to. In stories that challenge the reader at every turn, Czyzniejewski’s The Amnesiac in the Maze never fails to engage and surprise.
Praise for The Amnesiac in the Maze
In The Amnesiac in the Maze, there are wonders at every turn. Czyzniejewski reveals fantastic worlds hiding in plain sight, and the real stakes at the heart of the fantastic.
—Pedro Ponce, author of The Devil and the Dairy Princess
At break-neck speed, Czyzniejewski's surreal and fabulist stories explore serial murder, sex, time paradoxes, cannibalism, alien invasion, mental illness, and a ton more. Often riotous, never predictable, and always thought-provoking, these stories conjure the heady experiments of Kurt Vonnegut, Donald Barthelme, and Mark Leyner.
—Mark Polanzak, author of The OK End of Funny Town
From time travelers and ventriloquists to pyromaniacs and daredevils, Czyzniejewski’s kaleidoscopic collection thrusts archetypes, villains, and states of being through a particle collider, forcing us to reckon with the heartbreaking and often hilarious minutiae and bizarro world possibilities of roles we only thought we knew. If he hasn’t already done so, Czyzniejewski has affirmed his place as one of our most inventive masters of fabulist short fiction.
—Sequoia Nagamatsu, National Bestselling author of How High We Go in the Dark
In Michael Czyzniejewski’s The Amnesiac in the Maze, characters find themselves pushed to extremes by the absurdity of their circumstances. Populated by nihilists and ventriloquists and hypochondriacs, these strange, vivid parables feature people stuck in paradoxes, people trying to find a way out. The Amnesiac in the Maze is surreal and shocking, disorienting and delightful. —Helen Phillips, author of The Need
Michael Czyzniejewski is the author of three previous collections of stories: I Will Love You for the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories (Curbside Splendor, 2015); Chicago Stories: 40 Dramatic Vignettes (Curbside Splendor, 2012); and Elephants in Our Bedroom (Dzanc Books, 2009). He serves as Editor-in-Chief of Moon City Press and Moon City Review, as well as Interviews Editor for SmokeLong Quarterly. In 2009, he was awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.