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Carol's Aquarium [Kindle Edition]

Kristen J. Tsetsi
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“What sets Tsetsi apart from most writers is her ability to present raw, emotional moments in a way that allows you to personalize them. There are few books you will treasure and want to revisit the way you will with Carol’s Aquarium.” – Pop Culture Zoo

Love, lust, passion, turning 30, guiltless selfishness, the love of real life, and domestic confinement.

Stories in this collection include fiction prize winner and Pushcart Prize-nominee "They Three at Once Were One," fiction prize winner "Becoming an Oates Girl," and fiction prize winner "Burn Everything but the Heart." Short stories and microfiction--some previously published, some appearing here for the first time--come together in a series of illustrations of the darker things that make us human.

"There isn’t a bad story in the bunch. Mortality, depression, desperate delusional love, jealousy, insecurity, envy, guilt ... actually, I think all the 7 deadliest are represented here. These are real people in real pain, self-inflicted or otherwise, and they hit the page with a subtle vengeance." - Cheryl Anne Gardner, POD People

"Tsetsi is very observant with her writing, and these little touches go a long way into creating the scenarios written about." - Dan Wickett

Kristen J. Tsetsi's fiction has appeared in various print and online publications. Her novel Pretty Much True... (Missouri Breaks Press) released in Sept. 2012.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kristen J. Tsetsi is a former cab driver and a former instructor of screenwriting, playwriting, creative writing, and college English. As editor: American Fiction: The Best Unpublished Fiction by Emerging Authors, Vols. 11 and 12. (New Rivers Press) She is currently a feature writer and columnist for a New England newspaper and lives with her husband in Connecticut.

Product Details

  • File Size: 366 KB
  • Print Length: 119 pages
  • Publisher: Penxhere Press (August 29, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002NGO5NC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,511,943 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Decay and Collapse of the Human Psyche ... November 10, 2009
Format:Kindle Edition
Minimalist at its finest: so vague, so dark, and so mortally wounding, some of the stories warranted a second read so that I could fully appreciate just how deeply the psychology of obsession hit the page in so few words. That's what this book is all about after all: pain, suffering, and obsession -- the decay and collapse of the human psyche. But I'll get more into that later.

Now I love deviant and damaged characters, but I wasn't quite prepared for the level of neurosis I found in this collection of stories, or rather, explorations in obsessive emotion. Obsessive to the point of being pathological. The level of self-indulgent angst is disturbing in itself, and the spare writing style leaves much for the reader to interpret on their own, which makes for a very uncomfortable and eerie experience. So brava!

Most of the stories in this collection are written in the dramatic style, and since the themes are very macabre in nature, the brevity actually suits the stories. Subtly is required here so that the reader doesn't feel bludgeoned by the suffering. And there is a lot of suffering. These characters cling to their pain in frightening self-destructive ways, and they practice avoidance as if their lives depend on it. Stunning! Even the justifications are so perfectly extraordinary in their ordinariness that any adult reader will be able to relate on some level with each of the characters and their particular situation. These are real people, people who have become victims of their own life experience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Kindleobsessed review April 17, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
Shortly after I reviewed her novel "Homefront" "Kristen Tsetsi" asked me to review her collection of short stories. "Sure" I said..."No Problem, but be aware I review compilations 1 story at a time" Well, first of all...damn me and my big fat mouth and second...yeah, there is no way in hell I can do that with this book. (sorry Kristen)

"Carol's Aquarium" is not your everyday collection of shorts; they are not a couple of pages long, they are (more often than not) a couple of paragraphs long, and where a "conventional" short has plot line basics (beginning, middle, end) you are lucky if you get any of these in "Tsetsi's" work.

This is not to say that they aren't worth your time. Let me explain...what "Tsetsi" wrote were "dream shorts" - imaginative snippets that are structured and written to fuel free thinking minds. Still don't get it? Ok...bare with me. If you have every attended a creative writing class, whether it be in college or otherwise, your professor/teacher will at one point or another hand you a concept piece and ask you to expand upon it. That is exactly what "Tsetsi's" stories are... thoughts. They will generally start somewhere in the middle, more often than not they will be an insignificant part of a larger story, and they will abruptly stop.

This is where you the reader come in. YOU are supposed to figure out the rest, (what happens to the neurotic girlfriend or postpartum inflicted mother?) YOU are supposed to take the set up that was provided for you and let your creative juices run wild, (why did she bail on her wedding?) YOU are supposed to write the beginning, the middle, and the end. (What happens when he finally leaves his wife?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not your usual kind of short stories September 13, 2009
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought "Carol's Aquarium" to take a look at Kristen Tsetsi's short story collection, which had been getting a very favorable response on reader forums.

The stories in "Carol's Aquarium" are not conventional short stories having a clearly defined plot, characters, and an ending that wraps everything up neatly with no loose ends. Instead, each of these stories is more like a snippet of a bigger story, as if the reader dropped into the story "in progress," as they say on TV. This approach challenges the reader to engage their own imagination to fill in the blanks, so different readers may interpret stories differently, which I think was the author's intent. Although I'm not used to this style of writing, it wasn't difficult to just "go with the flow" and experience each story through the senses of the characters and visualize for myself what was happening.

The stories vary considerably in length and mood. The shortest stories, "Seasonal Tourists" and "Mexican Blanket," are barely a page long, and the longest ones are still a short read. I couldn't discern any common thread linking the stories, which allows Ms. Tsetsi a lot of freedom to experiment and demonstrate her talents, which are considerable. Love, separation, or estrangement did seem to be frequently used themes. Some stories seemed almost like excerpts from a dream, or perhaps a nightmare, where things have a surreal quality, yet seem natural to the dreamer.

I was impressed with Ms. Tsetsi's writing skills and her originality. She has a remarkable ability to create scenarios and settings that evoke emotional response by the reader and the need to interpret the story from the clues that she has left us.
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More About the Author

Email: ktsetsi AT gmail DOT com

Kristen Tsetsi is an award-winning fiction writer and a feature writer & columnist for a Connecticut newspaper. Her semi-autobiographical debut novel about being the one left behind during wartime, Pretty Much True... (called "stark and beautiful" by Feministing and "living, breathing and absolutely engrossing" by NYT bestselling novelist Caroline Leavitt), has been featured on NBC, NPR, the Huffington Post, the Stars and Stripes, and in newspapers around the country.

Much of her short fiction, including Pushcart Prize-nominee "They Three at Once Were One" and fiction competition winner "Becoming an Oates Girl," can be found in her collection Carol's Aquarium (ebook).

Kristen is a former instructor of expressive writing, play writing, and screenwriting, a former adjunct English professor, and a former cab driver. In 2010, she was privileged to edit Volume 11 of American Fiction (judged by Clint McCown), and in 2011 she was equally privileged to co-edited Volume 12 (judged by Josip Novakovich).

When not spending time with her husband, whose 2003 deployment to Iraq inspired Pretty Much True..., Kristen writes and films scenes for "Inside the Writers' Studio," a comic-relief YouTube series for writers co-created and co-written (and brilliantly edited) by author R.J. Keller.

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