The stories in Everyone Remain Calm reveal landscapes where the surreal and the familiar clash, to visceral effect. A woman yearns for—and dreads—the snowfall that arrives whenever her ex-boyfriend returns to the home she shares with their son. Another character reassures herself after breakups by seeking out the monster under her bed, the Incredible Hulk himself, for rebound sex that can be hot, heavy, and unnerving. Marching bands blare all the way from New Orleans to the Midwest. There are wild shootouts, rising tides, and perils embedded in the act of storytelling itself. “There are words that can kill you if you’re not careful,” Stielstra writes. And the stories we tell ourselves are the most fantastic tales of all. Everyone Remain Calm is eerie, hilarious, moving, and down-to-earth, even as its characters defy the rules—sometimes in the ways we wish we could.
Shot to the Lungs and No Breath Left
Times Are Tough All Over
One One-Thousand, Two One-Thousand, Three
Do You Want to Have Sex With Alan and Chloe?
I Am the Keymaster
This Teacher Talks Too Fast
I Asked the Guy Why Are You So Fly?
Greek or Czech or Japanese
Oscar and Veronica
All So Goddamn Great
Everyone Remain Calm
“Stielstra writes beautifully and kinetically. Her work possesses a rare aural quality, no doubt the result of spending so much time onstage, or even in front of a classroom . . . In Everyone Remain Calm, she gleefully tests the boundaries of the short-story form.” —Time Out Chicago
“Megan’s [live] performances are intense, composed of a powerful cadence of speech and strong storytelling you won’t find anywhere else. Somehow she has bottled the presence of her performances and sprinkled a little bit on each story contained within Everyone Remain Calm.” —CBS Chicago
"Stories to help you sort fantasy from reality." —Chicago Tribune
“Daring and inventive . . . Many lines blur in this book, including those between fiction and personal essay and between the literal and the fantastic. Some stories appear to be memoir rather than fiction, based on cues that include mentions of Stielstra's husband by name and subject matter seemingly culled from her life history, such as the travails of a creative-writing instructor. Then again, one story that commences ostensibly as creative non-fiction ends with a fifty-person marching band that follows the author all the way from New Orleans to her Midwestern hometown." —The Collagist
"Here’s the thing about Megan Stielstra: she has a profound understanding of where we all go in our minds, and the unique ability to turn it into a story that sounds like your new best friend is telling it to you. You know, the kind where you’re going 'Oh my god that totally happened to me' or 'It’s like you see inside my head' until she gets to the part where there’s suddenly a marching band following her down the street or she’s sleeping with the Incredible Hulk or having a three-way which is the part where you go 'Okay that didn’t happen to me but damn, why does it still seem like it did?' Megan Stielstra brings it to the party and rocks it.” —Elizabeth Crane, author of We Only Know So Much: A Novel
“Everyone Remain Calm is a rarity: a bold, imaginative, and cunning collection of stories. Spanning a wide variety of styles, forms, and tones, the language here is unapologetically inventive and often humorous, while the sentiments are deeply heartfelt. Ms. Stielstra’s inimitable voice is a fiercely unique creation.” —Joe Meno, author of The Great Perhaps: A Novel
“Megan Stielstra’s voice is so palpable, so immediate and vibrantly alive, it feels as though she’s standing right in front of you, sashaying her hips a little and maybe occasionally breaking into song, making you laugh so hard you don’t quite notice when you start to cry. A trickster constantly unpacking and upending what is meant by 'fiction,' 'truth' and 'storytelling,' Stielstra has ultimately created a charming style wholly her own.” —Gina Frangello, author of A Life in Men: A Novel
“When you read Megan Stielstra’s stories, you’ll feel like the coolest, most interesting gal in the bar just pulled a seat up next to you—lucky you. She tells tales of dangerous women, broken women, explosive women, real and magical women, all of whom you’ll have a hell of a good time getting to know as you watch them get ready to take flight.” —Claire Zulkey, author of An Off Year
“When you’re handed a short story collection, you typically know exactly what you’re going to get. When you’re handed a short story collection by Megan Stielstra, you know better than to think what you get will be typical in any way. It’s hard to believe that she has access to the same alphabet as the rest of us. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she has been gifted a few extra letters because I have never read a collection like this before. The scope of her writing and her ability to turn narrative on its head is inspiring but Stielstra’s ability to create characters with full emotional lives in such a short space of time is brilliant. Stielstra writes with her whole heart. With Everyone Remain Calm, that heart lives in each character and story.” —Bassey Ikpi, author of I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying: Essays