By Gayle Brandeis

Gayle Brandeis is the author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write (HarperOne), Dictionary Poems (Pudding House Publications), and the novels The Book of Dead Birds (HarperCollins), which won Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellwether Prize for Fiction of Social Engagement, Self Storage (Ballantine), Delta Girls (Ballantine), and My Life with the Lincolns (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers), which received a Silver Nautilus Book Award and was chosen as a state-wide read in Wisconsin. Gayle served as Inlandia Literary Laureate from 2012-2014. She teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is currently Distinguished Visiting Professor and Writer in Residence at Sierra Nevada College.

  1. Things started out well enough. The tin of butter cookies was graciously received, as was the punch bowl of lemonade—refreshments that wouldn’t tint the tongue, or the hands. The church basement was warm, not the dank dungeon some had feared, and was plastered with kids’ coloring sheets of lambs and foot-washing. Some members were heartened to see one picture of Jesus’ calves and ankles filled in with Vivid Tangerine crayon. The meeting was called to…

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