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Octopus wrestling and short fictions: Frankie McMillan

Award-winning writer Frankie McMillan’s new collection, The Father of Octopus Wrestling, and other small fictions, traverses exciting new terrain between prose poetry and short fiction, delivering stories that are darkly comic, dynamic and surreal.

Steeped in human vulnerability and eccentricity, her eagerly awaited fourth book, The Father of Octopus Wrestling, will be launched on 31 August at Scorpio Books, published by Canterbury University Press.

“Every story is like a sky rocket we haven’t seen before – flaring and sparkling in unexpected ways,” award-winning author Lloyd Jones says of the latest collection.

Dubbed New Zealand’s ‘maestro of flash fiction’ by renowned short story writer Owen Marshall for her previous collection My Mother and the Hungarians, and other small fictions, McMillan is recognised internationally for her mastery of the increasingly popular flash fiction genre.

Closer to home, McMillan won the New Zealand Flash Fiction Award in 2013 and 2015. Her poems have been selected for Best New Zealand Poems 2012 and 2015 (International Institute of Modern Letters).

Her title story was inspired by a Wikipedia entry about octopus wrestling.

“I was intrigued to read of a man named O’Rourke who caught octopuses in the late 1940s, using his body as live bait, and was dubbed the ‘father of octopus wrestling’ by American writer H. Allen Smith,” McMillan says.

The Father of Octopus Wrestling is an artisan production, designed and printed at Ilam Press, Ilam School of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury.

The Father of Octopus Wrestling, and other small fictions by Frankie McMillan, August 2019, RRP $27.99, ISBN 978-1-98-850312-7. Published by Canterbury University Press, with support from Creative New Zealand.

About the author

In 1998 Frankie McMillan was awarded an MA (Distinction) from the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University, Wellington. She is a member of the New Zealand Academy of Literature. Her last collection, My Mother and the Hungarians, and other small fictions (CUP, 2016), was longlisted for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. She co-edited, along with Michelle Elvy and James Norcliffe, Bonsai: Best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand (CUP, 2018). Both books feature the short short form (flash fiction, prose poetry and haibun). McMillan’s prose and poetry have been extensively published in journals both in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally.

Praise for Frankie McMillan’s work

My Mother and the Hungarians, and other small fictions

• “A series of deceptively brief but satisfying stories” - Anne Else, New Zealand Listener

• “The writing is elegant, spare, captivating … Is it small fiction, flash fiction, short short stories or prose poetry? I don’t think it matters an iota. Call it what you will. This writing should hook anyone who sniffs at flash fiction because Frankie shows how good it can be” - Paula Green, NZ Poetry Shelf

• “Captivating, perceptive, and different, My Mother and the Hungarians is a must-have collection” - Flash: The International Short Short Story Magazine (Chester, UK)

There are no horses in heaven

The most startling poetry book I have read for years” - Glasgow Review of Books

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