by Brett Biebel
publication date: December 15, 2020
Set along the 455 Nebraska miles of Interstate 80, the 48 stories in Brett Biebel’s debut collection, 48 Blitz, introduce characters who search for roadkill, play high school football, drink on rooftops, and strive to find purpose amid the cornfields and humidity of the Great Plains. Whether it’s the politician on a bowling alley tour, the local loudmouth, or the Husker diehard slated for execution, the people who make up this collection struggle with the legacy of the American frontier, its sometimes empty promises, and often stubborn beauty. By turns experimental and character-driven, 48 Blitz goes inside the heads of characters not often seen in literary fiction, inviting readers to immerse themselves within, rather than fly over, the wide-open Midwestern prairie.
Praise for 48 Blitz:
"A superb rendering of the Cornhusker State and the lives of its citizens. By turns dark, funny, tender, and heartbreaking, these stories are true to the particular flavor and pathos of midwestern life. You'll find no tricks or gimmicks, or writerly sleight of hand here, just pure, masterful storytelling."
—Kathy Fish, author of Wild Life: Collected Works from 2003-2018
"Biebel’s short stories are exit ramps into small, dying towns haunted by a more prosperous past and the omnipresence of big agriculture."
—Sarah Freligh, author of Sad Math
"Sharp, swift, witty, perverse: the stories in 48 Blitz are strikingly original, and somehow spare and rich at the same time. The collection is an exciting exercise in contrasts, stories of legend and mythology by way of rural backroads, of a gritty realism that verges on the surreal."
—Timothy Schaffert, author of The Swan Gondola
"The weirdest stories here feel reportorial and the most mundane feel like they capture the fantasy world of 'Nebraska' in a way only fiction can."
—Aaron Burch, author of The Year of the Buffalo
"This collection is a love letter to the people who often feel overlooked, to the flyover states, the places where everyone’s just passing through to get to somewhere else.
—Cole Meyer, The Masters Review
"Home towns are a mixed bag: pride and loyalty, comedy and tragedy, a lot of absurdity with a little disillusionment to boot. It’s all in here. Well played, Brett Biebel."
—Beret Olsen, SmokeLong Quarterly
"48 Blitz is like a snow globe—a concentrated effort at containing a perfect microcosm of a scene, a place, and a feeling. Sometimes the swirling snow will seem to follow a familiar pattern, but then it’ll fall in such a way, set such a scene, that you’ll be struck by the simple elegance of it all."
—Srijani Ganguly, Vestal Review
Brett Biebel is the author of 48 Blitz (Split/Lip Press, 2020), A Companion to Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon (University of Georgia Press, 2023-2024), and Gridlock (Cornerstone Press, 2024). His short fiction has been anthologized in Best Small Fictions and Best Microfiction and featured in Wigleaf’s Top 50 Very Short Stories (2021). He writes and teaches in Illinois.