On the Rocks: A Novella (Paperback)

On the Rocks: A Novella By Theodora Ziolkowski, Antonya Nelson (Foreword by) Cover Image
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In On the Rocks, Eva Marino’s free-spirited mother Leonora is on the cusp of her second marriage and Eva is to serve as the maid of honor. Between binge-watching episodes of Midsomer Murders, attending therapy, and drinking mojitos at the Grumpy Monk Tavern directly after the yoga classes she takes with her mother, Eva attempts to keep her grief at bay.

Eva knows she has to step up for her mother as wedding preparations continue, despite the grief she feels over her best friend's death and her realizations about the secrets her parents kept from her as well as from each other. For Eva, the convergence between her past and present comes to a head in the weeks leading up to her mother’s wedding. A mother-daughter last hoorah at a New Jersey spa culminates in Eva’s understanding of the truth, the truth she tried to keep from surfacing as well as the discovery of a secret that could be impossible for her to move on from.

On the Rocks is a novel about mother-daughter relationships, betrayal, annoying relatives, the power of laughter, family secrets, and a love that lingers from childhood even after the beloved’s death. It is both hilarious and poignant, and its heroine’s observations are laugh-out-loud funny at the same time they break your heart. Brad Watson has described Theodora Ziolkowski as descending “from a line of writers including the late-greats Eudora Welty (in her sometimes-under-appreciated comic mode), Flannery O'Connor, Charles Portis, and Lewis Nordan, and more recently the great George Singleton. She's darkly funny with a fine eye for the everyday bizarre absurdities that make you want to lie about some of the people you come from.” According to the judge for the Next Generation Indie Book Award, “The strength of the voice in [On the Rocks], the humor layered over the pain, the need to turn away from the pain and yet confront it make this fast, funny, poignant [novella] memorable.”

The Revised and Expanded Edition includes a foreword by Antonya Nelson, a preface by the author, a reading guide, and the author’s preferred version of the text.

About the Author

THEODORA ZIOLKOWSKI is the author of On the Rocks and Mother Tongues. Her work has appeared in Glimmer Train, The Writer's Chronicle, Short Fiction (England), Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the Inprint Marion Barthelme Prize in Creative Writing. Recently, she served as Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast and Fiction Editor for Big Fiction. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Houston.

Praise For…

"In her post-postmodern comedy of manners, On the Rocks, Theodora Ziolkowski goes all-in in reimagining Austenesque billet-doux and pas de deux now steeped in the new electromagnetic stew of the contemporary nuclear family’s terrarium. I marveled at the book’s 5G velocities, the sublime catalogue of objective correlatives collecting meanings on the sly, the down low. At once, On the Rocks seems timeless and time-full, ageless in its emotion and instant in detail. This is an amazing amalgam, all double-timed and quick-silvered in the presence of mercurial mercury."
—Michael Martone, author of Brooding and The Moon Over Wapakoneta

"Heart shattering and hilarious, often at the same time, On the Rocks is a bravura performance in miniature—a beautifully written, effervescently compassionate window into the inextricably bound histories, heads, and hearts of Eva and Leonora Marino."
—Kate Racculia, author of Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts and Bellweather Rhapsody

“Theodora Ziolkowski’s On the Rocksis wickedly sharp and acidly funny—a tragi-comic voyage into the land of mothers and daughters, grief and therapy, and the shipwreck of heartbreak. This is mordant, memorable work from a writer to watch.”
—Alix Ohlin, author of Dual Citizens

“Theodora Ziolkowski comes from a line of writers including the late-greats Eudora Welty (in her sometimes under-appreciated comic mode), Flannery O’Connor, Charles Portis, and Lewis Nordan, and more recently the great George Singleton. She’s darkly funny with a fine eye for the everyday bizarre absurdities that make you want to lie about some of the people you come from.”
—Brad Watson, author of Miss Jane

“Ziolkowski’s Eva Marino is a wry and relatable comic voice, narrating as if through a facepalm—On the Rocks is often a madcap delight, reveling in quirks of character and outrageous turns, but as with all great comic novels the laughs are sometimes the keep-from-crying kind. Beneath the book’s many charms and impeccable deadpan delivery is a story about trauma: how we endure it (or pretend to), how we struggle to truthfully speak it, and how we too frequently end up revisiting it upon ourselves and the ones we love.”
—Joseph Bates, author of Tomorrowland: Stories

“Theodora Ziolkowski’s On the Rocks is a very funny, very wise novel about family—which is to say, about grief and love and betrayal and hope. And it’s narrated by force of narrative nature—Eva, a young woman who is a brilliant sayer and seer, but who also has a secret. And what a treat it is to watch Ziolkowski tease the secret out of her and into this wonder of a book.”
—Brock Clarke, author of Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe?

“In this hilarious, poignant debut, Ziolkowski sends her characters on a razor’s-edge walk between laughter and grief. With sharp humor and a keen eye for the ways we reach out to the ones we love, she shows us the prickly, ferocious bond between mothers and daughters, and the divisions that threaten to tear them apart. On the Rocks is a knife-sharp, gorgeously written adventure through the modern heart.”
—Blair Hurley, author of The Devoted

“By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, On the Rocks is a touching and intelligent exploration of the deep bonds between mothers and daughters, the complex mechanics of grief, and the power of loss to either unite or divide us. Eva Marino is an acerbic and unforgettable narrator who brings her seaside world and zany family to life in brilliant Technicolor, exposing the joys and horrors of being inextricably bound to one’s mother—and to one’s ghosts.”
—Ashley Wurzbacher, author of Happy Like This

Product Details
ISBN: 9781680032390
ISBN-10: 1680032399
Publisher: Texas Review Press
Publication Date: December 30th, 2020
Pages: 168
Language: English