Magic Helicopter Press


by Claudia Smith

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Order Quarry Light

5.5x8.25 | Perfectbound
ISBN: 978-0-9841406-5-7

Winner of the 2013-2014 Writers' League of Texas Discovery Prize for Fiction!


Girls sleep on the balcony overlooking the water. Men wait by the bonfire, green bottles in the sand, coral necklaces. A rat scratches behind the walls a father has painted and left. A man sends his daughter a friend request. A woman thinks her heart should be beating fast, but it isn’t. A man draws a woman pictures she doesn’t want, of her hair wound around her neck. She sleeps in a closet with the dog she found on the porch.

In the stories of Claudia Smith’s debut collection Quarry Light, women search for life after darkness and breath after violence. They listen to the song with the line about the cat in the dark. Their mother swims in quarry water the coolest, deepest green they have ever seen.


Claudia Smith's short shorts have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals. Her flash fiction collection The Sky Is A Well And Other Shorts was reprinted in Rose Metal Press's book A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness; her second collection of flashes, Put Your Head in My Lap, is available from Future Tense Books. 

Cover art and design by Dan Grissom


"Before I fell in love with Mary Miller, I fell in love with Claudia Smith. Claudia was the first writer I identified with on the Internet. Her stories felt not unfamiliar to my own, (not just the ones I wrote, but the ones I grew up inside): stories of single mothers and lonely daughters, alcoholic women just trying to scrape by, teenage girls wanting nothing more than to be thought of as “normal,” men neither of them really knew. Claudia has the unique ability to put you right back in childhood, right back in the summer you were thirteen and terrified of everything, especially yourself. I read Claudia Smith's stories to better understand my own. I read Claudia Smith's stories to remember where I came from. I read Claudia Smith because she is like the sister I never had but always wanted; someone with whom to share these stories; someone who understands." — Elizabeth Ellen

"Claudia Smith's Quarry Light is a remarkable collection rife with strange doings, comings and goings, beings of the sort uncommonly troubled and beautiful in equal measures. The writing is elegant, sharp, sublime. The stories are frightening and heartbreaking. One doesn't want to mention names, but she brings to mind other sorely missed Southern women writers whose remarkable work we all still read with awe." — Frederick Barthelme

"What I love most about Claudia Smith's stories is their way of making familiar things seem new. It's a great gift—she restores to grown-up eyes the alertness of children." — James Whorton Jr.

"Claudia Smith's Quarry Light is by turns dazzling, electric, and terrifying, a story that will never, in Kurosawa's phrase, avert the eye.  She's a talent to be reckoned with, and celebrated." — Steven Barthelme


"Babyfat" in NOÖ
"Red" in Night Train


"The stories in Claudia Smith’s collection Quarry Light are stunning. Her language is pristine and nostalgic, and her characters are drawn with studied sympathy. And yet, the stories are quite literally stunning: they slowly lead us into the devastating clash of innocence and brutality." — Mary Pettice in American Book Review

"Smith is a confident and patient storyteller. There are no broad strokes in her writing—her stories are truly built sentence by sentence, each one packed with insights and wonders that complicate her characters in lovely ways." — Justin Brouckaert at Sundog

"On display here and in all the stories of this collection is Smith's masterful storytelling, her ability to build tension, set a tone of foreboding, to draw the reader ever forward, to make the heart beat a little faster ... Gothic, with a strong, beating heart. Claudia Smith mines the depths of sadness and loss and human frailty with bravery and compassion. These stories will leave their mark." — Kathy Fish at The Lit Pub

"Quarry Light tells the stories of some women who have lived through the worst of it, have been mistreated by those they should trust the most, and failed by the rest.  More importantly, it tells their storiesafter the worst of it.  They haven't necessarily moved on, or moved forward, or moved very far, but they are still moving, and that's a story worth looking in on." — Tom Taff in The Small Press Book Review

"Gritty realism that is sometimes sweet and sometimes sad. Some of the stories remind me of the quiet strength of Michael Oondatje or Russell Banks." — Kevin Sampsell

"Yes, love in Quarry Light is indeed a cruel sculptor in its designs on these women, but Smith herself is a master architect, building her stories with a vision that regards the perseverance of these women as the noblest of causes." — Patrick Thomas Henry in Necessary Fiction


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