Other Minds and Other Stories (FORTHCOMING)
a story collection by
Preorder this title now!
This book will be released on November 14, 2023.
On Oct. 18, 2023, 5:00–6:30 pm, author Bennett Sims will be at the Heartland Fall Forum's Opening Reception!
→ As the grand finale to the Book Awards Celebration, all of the award-winning authors will be joined by a collection of additional authors with exciting forthcoming titles to sign copies of their books. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres will be served.
→ Booksellers can learn more about the event here: heartlandfallforum.org/schedule
On Nov. 15, 2023, Prairie Lights (15 South Dubuque St. Iowa City, IA 52240) will be hosting the in-person book launch for Other Minds and Other Stories!
→ Preorder a signed first edition copy with Prairie Lights: Other Minds and Other Stories preorder
→ Learn more about the November 15, 2023, event here: prairielights.com/live
From the award-winning author of A Questionable Shape and White Dialogues, a brilliant, anxious, and hilarious new collection.
A man lends his phone to a stranger in the mall, setting off an uncanny series of Unknown calls that come to haunt his relationship with jealousy and dread. A well-meaning locavore tries to butcher his backyard chickens humanely, only to find himself absorbed into the absurd violence of the pecking order. A student applying for a philosophy fellowship struggles to project himself into the thoughts of his hypothetical judges, becoming increasingly possessed and overpowered by the problem of other minds. And in “The Postcard,” a private detective is hired to investigate a posthumous message that a widower has seemingly received from his dead wife, leading him into a foggy landscape of lost memories, shifting identities, and strange doublings.
Cerebral and eerie, captivating and profound, these twelve stories expertly guide us through the paranoia and obsession of everyday horrors, not least the horrors of overthinking what other people might be thinking. With all of Sims’s trademark virtuosity, innovation, and wit, Other Minds and Other Stories continues to expand the possibilities of contemporary fiction.
Scroll to bottom to view Goodreads reviews.
"[Bennett Sims] draws on academia, art, and technology for a superb collection about identity and memory.... Throughout, Sims boldly plays with form, such as in 'Introduction to the Reading of Hegel,' which consists of one paragraph that extends for nearly 30 pages and chronicles an adjunct professor’s self-sabotage as he attempts to apply for a prestigious fellowship. Here and elsewhere, the prose is shot through with pitch-perfect observations and dark undercurrents... These brilliant stories are hard to shake."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
(Publishers Weekly review of Other Minds and Other Stories)
"These stories are full of intellectual, philosophical and linguistic wonders. With a keen eye for the moments when the contemporary world turns to self-cannibalism, with ears attuned to the music of the language, Bennett Sims is one of the finest writers working in America today.”
—Yiyun Li, author of The Book of Goose
"Patiently, placidly, with exquisite technique and implacable logic, the mad master Bennett Sims erects gorgeous edifices of thought and bricks us inside while we admire the craftsmanship. It takes rare talent to make the prison of solipsism seem so inviting."
—Adam Ehrlich Sachs, author of Inherited Disorders and The Organs of Sense
"In Other Minds and Other Stories, Bennett Sims patiently parses the movements of consciousnesses increasingly colonized by media technology and turns the screws on the banalities of contemporary life until the uncanny irrupts from them. Following on White Dialogues, the twelve stories in this collection confirm Sims as a virtuoso of the form, and one of the best writers working in America today."
—Ryan Ruby, author of The Zero and the One
"Bennett Sims belongs to that almost extinct category of fiction writers whose lexical virtuosity, besides being a joy to read, reminds us the English language can thrive outside the tired phraseologies of everyday life. Whether he’s examining glitches of intersubjectivity, or the generative power of blank faces in a sarcophagus, his obsessive inquisitiveness enlivens every page of Other Minds and Other Stories.”
—Mauro Javier Cardenas, author of Aphasia and The Revolutionaries Try Again
"Bennett Sims is a pioneer and peerless master of psychological horror. The characters of Other Minds and Other Stories are haunted by intellect, helplessly coaxing terror from the ordinary by their powers of fine observation: GPS navigators, text messages, a snowy night, even the very act of reading. But what's truly unsettling is that once this book makes you see things in its brilliantly paranoid way, you'll never be able not to. Glory to Bennett Sims!”
—Tony Tulathimutte, author of Private Citizens
"These stories are brilliant: at once virtuosic and moving, funny and sad, terrifying and sweet. Each story is an excavation of thought, insistently pursued beyond the stopping point of most fiction, so that, in reading, we are permitted to sink into the deepest wormholes of its characters’ minds. There we find language at its most intricate and precise, perfections of expression that provide a reader that thrilling sense of recognition that comes when the words on the page have caused her to see herself—and maybe others—more clearly than she had before she read them."
—Louisa Hall, author of Reproduction, Trinity, and Speak
"Impeccably observed, exquisitely written, and rightly suspicious, Other Minds and Other Stories is a thrilling free-fall into the limitless spaces of relentless human obsessions—from voicemail to chickens to postcards to snow—brilliantly exposing, in the absolute everyday, the deepest and truest, and perhaps most familiar, of horrors."
—Susan Steinberg, author of The End of Free Love, Hydroplane, Spectacle, and Machine: A Novel
"Dreamy and visceral at once. I really liked it but it did end any ideas I had of ever owning chickens."
—Matthew Burris, Magic City Books (Tulsa, OK)
"Other Minds and Other Stories by Bennett Sims is a perfectly unsettling collection about memory, perception, self-doubt, Hegel, Hegel, Hegel, and amateur chicken butchering that goes horrifically wrong. From the purchase of a new cell phone to writing a personal statement that nearly drives a philosophy graduate student to madness, Sims is the master at exploring the horror in everyday mundane situations. Highly recommended!"
—Caitlin Baker, Island Books (Mercer Island, WA)
"This exquisite spiderweb of words is suspended in an eerily unique literary space between Borges' narrative mazes, Shirley Jackson's psychological gothic, George Saunders' noir satire, and Carmen Machado's social horror. Getting lost in a Sims tale may bruise your mind a bit, but it's worth it for the uncanny vistas."
—Jonathan Hawpe, Carmichael's Bookstore (Louisville, KY)
"This collection of cerebral stories left me on edge and wondering what I just read because my brain couldn't quite perform the gymnastics required to wrap my mind around it. Fascinated, you'll read, then reread these stories, then not be able to get them out of your head! 'Unknown' and 'The Postcard' were standouts."
—Alana Haley, Schuler Books (Grand Rapids, MI)
"what a fucking fantastic year for short stories. i absolutely love the restless interiority of Sims's narrators, how they obsess over details and grow increasingly troubled (and on rare occasions, enter a zen-like space of peace) as they pore over possible coincidences. there's also a startling breadth of kinds of stories, from the very short to the ones that spill and froth and just keep going seemingly unable or unwilling to stop. "Introduction to Reading Hegel" has a pitch perfect blend of humor and academic paranoia. One of the best collections I've read in years. 12 stars out of 10."
—Douglas Riggs, Bank Square Books (Mystic, CT)
"I loved this collection. Fits very well for those who like the short-form vibes of Samanta Schweblin and Brian Evenson. A spooky, David Foster Wallace-y attention to detail, like taking a microscope and roller-ruler to a Build-A-Nightmare."
—Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop (Athens, GA)
"This latest story collection from Bennett Sims is equal parts playful and unsettling, and a consistently engaging exploration into interior minds that feel just a bit askew."
—Bryan Seitz, Literati Bookstore (Ann Arbor, MI)
"Cerebral, eerie, and bleak. These short stories are candid and stylistically complex. My favorite stories were the ones with the unknown caller, the one with the chicken slaughter, and he one where a photograph seemed to have captured the presence of a grim reaper."
—Andrienne Cruz, Azusa City Library (Azusa, CA)
Praise for Bennett Sims's award-winning story collection, White Dialogues:
* Winner of the Rome Prize for Literature 2018-19
* One of the Best Books of 2017 —Bookforum
"A brilliant... story collection by possibly the smartest and most inventive writer of his... generation.
—Tony Tulathimutte, Bookforum, "Best Books of the Year"
"One of the most genuinely terrifying, brilliant short story collections of the past decade. These stories are so smart and so unsettling; every sentence will unnerve you. He’s kind of like if Alfred Hitchcock and Brian Evenson raised a baby with David Foster Wallace and Nicholson Baker. Sims should be a household name in horror. (He also has a criminally underrated novel, A Questionable Shape.)"
—Carmen Maria Machado, author of In the Dream House, Lit Hub "26 Books From the Last Decade that More People Should Read"
"Sims’s debut story collection elegantly explores the ordinary and fantastic terrors lurking in the deepest recesses of the psyche... This is a cerebral collection for fans of smart, philosophical fiction that is not afraid to follow thought experiments to their most chilling conclusions."
“Anyone who admires such pyrotechnics of language will find 21st-century echoes of Edgar Allan Poe in Sims’s portraits of paranoia and delusion, with their zodiacal narrowing and the maddening tungsten spin of their narratives.”
—Hannah Pittard, New York Times Book Review
"These 11 cerebral, uncanny stories marry horror, pop culture, metafiction, and cinema, and the result is a collection unlike any other in recent memory. If you like David Foster Wallace, Godzilla, or both, you need this book."
"There are some clever literary stunts scattered throughout this collection, but there’s no doubting the inventiveness of the author’s prose, pacing, and ability to build tension and occasionally dispel it with laughter... A deft collection of spooky fables that pivots from classic stylings to postmodern irony."
"Showcasing an ingenious and darkly subversive mind, White Dialogues is a head-trip worth taking."
"In this wise, witty and often deeply moving collection of stories Bennett Sims proves himself to be a master of many forms. He can find sinister obsession in a lawn mower or a scrabble board, he can find life and death in a lizard. He takes his reader to the moon—“Not even death is an outside for the dead”—and back. He is the heir to the Nabokov of Pale Fire even as his voice is entirely his own. The title story, “White Dialogues,” serves as an emblem for the book as a whole. Here is a writer who is always directing our attention to what we have failed to see, giving voice, beautifully, unnervingly to the unsaid."
"White Dialogues is fantastic, and the story "Destroy All Monsters" is a masterpiece. Bennett Sims's work shows us—through the intricate decay of his characters, the intricate assembly of his monsters—why horror has become the most philosophical genre. He shows us the occult link between imagination and death."
"The brilliant, austere stories of White Dialogues are, in their marrow, horror stories: the terrible anxiety of thought loops, the certainty of fate, the specter of death, the inescapability of one’s own mind, the monstrosity of human impulses. With the uncanny perception of Nicholson Baker, the formal playfulness of David Foster Wallace, and the domestic terror of Shirley Jackson, Bennett Sims wrangles fictional forms, pop culture, and philosophy to his own dark ends. Incantatory, cerebral, and profoundly unnerving, White Dialogues is pure, perverse pleasure. Sims is one of our best early-career fiction writers, and this is a collection worth celebrating.”
—Carmen Maria Machado
"In White Dialogues, Bennett Sims unleashes more of the dazzling intellectual firepower I loved in his debut, A Questionable Shape. Sims' vision of what is horrifying is both engaged with the long and varied history of that genre and unique within it. His work is deeply philosophical and human, turning the known and familiar so that we can see it from new angles and find ourselves refracted in the strangeness of others' minds. Is Sims writing about monsters, or thoughts, or the monsters of our thoughts? This question—and this dark, uncanny collection of stories—feels vital, especially right now. A brutally smart book."
"The Zen poet Ikkyu used to run through town holding a human skull aloft like a lantern. These stories are that lantern, a collection of memento mori chilling, timeless, and deeply satisfying to read. There is no escape from the awareness of death here; in these stories, the hidden picture is always the monster in plain sight, the call is coming from inside the house, and the house is that circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. The voices Sims summons are so persuasive that you, the reader, become implicated in their frantic logic, trapped with the narrators in their interpretative cages. This relentlessness is mitigated by the Melvillean heft of Sims’ prose: the depth of his attention to the world and to the making of sentences, the monumentalness. He is an anatomist of horror, but an anatomist of great beauty and wit."
Praise for Bennett Sims's award-winning debut novel, A Questionable Shape:
* Bard Fiction Prize 2014
* The Believer Book Award Finalist
* One of the Best Books of 2013 —Complex Magazine, Book Riot, Slate, The L Magazine, NPR's 'On Point', Salon
"Equal parts David Foster Wallace and Richard Matheson [...] A Questionable Shape is certainly the first Proustian zombie novel, but hopefully not the last horror novel of ideas."
"[An] extraordinary novel."
—Los Angeles Review of Books
"A Questionable Shape is a rewriting of the genre in rather literal sense. Sims’s zombie novel perhaps contains the highest proportion of great descriptions of light per page since Proust. The zombie installs at the heart of the novel a perspective from which the polymorphous dynamics of the human experience of light disappear."
—Los Angeles Review of Books
"Sims allows us at least a glimpse of the monstrous weight we all lug on our individual trudges through daily life."
"Ambitious [and] thoughtfully rendered. Sims's debut is essential reading."
BOOK CLUB & READER GUIDE: Questions and Topics for Discussion
[Link will be live by Nov. 1st!]
Bennett Sims was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is the author of the story collection Other Minds and Other Stories (2023), the novel A Questionable Shape (2013), which received the Bard Fiction Prize and was a finalist for The Believer Book Award, and the story collection White Dialogues (2017), winner of the Rome Prize for Literature 2018–19 and named a best book of 2017 by Bookforum. He is a recipient of a Michener-Copernicus Society Fellowship. His fiction has appeared in A Public Space, Conjunctions, Electric Literature, Tin House, and Zoetrope: All-Story, as well as in the Pushcart Prize Anthology. He has taught at Bard College, Grinnell College, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Enjoy a sneak peek of select pages from Other Minds and Other Stories!
View Other Minds and Other Stories sneak peek here
Cover design: Eric Obenauf;
Author photograph: Carmen Maria Machado;
Interior images: page 4: Sze Tsung Nicolás Leong: 1887, 1981: Palazzo Massimo, Roma (2019) (by permission of the Ministry of culture – National Roman Museum, Palazzo Massimo); pages 71, 73: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT: Sarcophage de Portonaccio—Palazzo Museo Massimo (Wikimedia, Creative Commons, 2011); pages 79, 81: Courtesy of the author; page 202: Sze Tsung Nicolás Leong: 1650: Istituto Storico Italiano per il Medioevo, Oratorio dei Filippini, Roma (2019).
LIST PRICE: $18.95
PRINT ISBN: 9781953387356
DIGITAL ISBN: 978-1-953387-36-3
RELEASE DATE: 11/14/2023
SIZE: 5.5" x 7.5"
Printed in Canada by Marquis, with the following environmental statement:
*Inside printed on Enviro 100% post-consumer EcoLogo certified paper, processed chlorine free and manufactured using biogas energy.
*FSC certified paper (inside and cover).