The Taste of Penny


Thirteen short stories.


“Ten dark, suspenseful, and tightly wound stories teeter on the edge of catastrophe and the surreal piecing-back-together of life afterwards. . . . Parker’s prose is concise and quirky, packed with unexpected turns . . . these stories are haunting and constantly surprising.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Parker’s sense of humor shines through in these stories, thanks in large part to an idiosyncratic take on language, mixing colloquialism with precision.” —Time Out Chicago

“Pathetic, perhaps, but the characters in Jeff Parker’s riotous collection of short stories are always welcome to come to life in our book.” —Time Out New York

“. . . Parker mines that thin vein of heartbreak that only exists in the absurdly comic. His gift is in combining and distilling these influences so that the collection feels like a trip through a traveling carnival, each story a ride whose flashing lights distract hypnotically from the danger and speed. The best stories in this collection work because of Parker’s humor and because he creates landscapes that function by their own laws of physics. . . . The world may indeed be cruel and incomprehensible, and Parker knows our best hope is in laughing at it.” —American Book Review

“. . . not to be missed.” —Black Book (Top 10 Books of 2010)

“The errant liftgates and related stories make us all realize there are bigger mishaps and idiots out there beyond ourselves. Also make us realize that Jeff Parker is no idiot.” —Impose Magazine (Favorite Books of 2010)

“Whether moose legs or tongue tips or sperm counts or pennies lodged into a throat, Parker disassembles us so compellingly that we no longer wish to be whole. His inventiveness revises the world as we know it with audacious wit.” —Mary Caponegro, author of All Fall Down and The Star Cafe 

“Here we have characters in Russia messing up in hilarious ways; taking care of a cheating girlfriend’s pet bird; failing miserably at roadside tests in front of cops; spraying indoor centipedes with cheap cologne. Has my life ever been this bad? Nope. And that’s good. Have I ever felt like such a foreigner in an already-strange land? Not even close. Do I wish that I’d written these stories? Absolutely. I’m jealous.The Taste of Penny’s the best ride at a spectacular carnival.”—George Singleton, author of The Half-Mammals of Dixie and These People Are Us 

“Jeff Parker’s stories are mysterious, heartfelt, and utterly captivating. In The Taste Of Penny, he casually flexes a Voltron-like combo of writerly gifts: Ron Carlson’s mastery of voice, Elmore Leonard’s uncanny ear for dialogue, and Raymond Carver’s spare wit. This collection contains some of the most absorbing and brightly imaginative stories I’ve come across in some time.” —Davy RothbartFOUND Magazine and This American Life

“The thirteen stories comprising Jeff Parker’s The Taste of Penny manage to straddle the gulf between outlandishness and poignancy.”—Mid-American Review

The Taste of Penny succeeds brilliantly . . . exposing personal and political absurdities with a supple, serio-comic tone and wire taut dialogue.” —Rain Taxi

“This collection is the perfect way to escape and live a life (or lives) a little more dangerous and adventurous for awhile.” —What to Wear During an Orange Alert?

Publisher Page:

The Taste of Penny at Dzanc Books