Maybe This Is What I Deserve: Stories
by Tucker Leighty-Phillips
publication date: June 20, 2023
Winner of the 2022 Fiction Chapbook Contest, selected by Isle McElroy
Tucker Leighty-Phillips builds a series of mythologies; of childhood, of Appalachia, of seeing the world through the 3D glasses of poverty. The stories in Maybe This Is What I Deserve dip their toes between sentiment and surrealism—a whirlpool swallows a boy in a family swimming pool, a girl befriends the lice her mother can’t afford to eradicate, a group of children form a secret society in the walls of a fast food play place. Using the logic of childhood across kids and adults alike, Leighty-Phillips builds a world filled with wonder and tells a new story of working-class, rural living.
Praise for Maybe This Is What I Deserve:
"With prose that constantly surprises and pleases, Maybe This Is What I Deserve is the kind of flash collection that will make you rethink how you see the world. Beneath the arresting imagery of sweaty mashes of bills and noses flowing like gratitude is the heartbeat of an author equally invested in language as character. These stories shock, they entertain, and they stick in your mind."—Isle McElroy, author of The Atmospherians and People Collide
"I love Tucker Leighty-Phillips’s wild imagination, his privileging of the emotions of childhood, his ability to find the magic that’s ever-present in the messiness of community. In Maybe This Is What I Deserve, Leighty-Phillips delivers us a surrealism suffused with joy and generosity and wit, grounded in sincere love for Kentucky and for the irrepressible potential of its people."
—Matt Bell, author of Appleseed
"In these inventive and open-hearted stories, Tucker Leighty-Phillips takes us back to the most secret, tender moments of our childhoods. He summons worlds where aliens nap in planters, people wait in line for a kiss from a magical catfish, and a monster posts messages to the community bulletin board. Every story in Maybe This Is What I Deserve, is a perfect gem I’d like to put in my pocket and carry with me. "
—Dana Diehl, author of The Classroom
"Donald Barthelme’s desire “to be on the leading edge of the trash phenomenon” is spelled out spectacularly in the markedly remarkable collection, Maybe This Is What I Deserve curated by the edgy midden-minded Tucker Leighty-Phillips. These fine fouled fictions are like exquisite flying machines, log-jammed and adrift, in the Mississippi of stalled and exhausted satellites in their decaying orbits, circumscribing the grumpy gravity of blue, blue Earth. These fictions ping signals, track and reconnoiter, weather weather, and fill the empty space of space with bejeweled juxtaposed junk. They are a flight of cargo planes loaded with asymmetrical language that instructs us to construct these (what?) things even as they (and we) are all falling—shooting stars! smears on the wet windows of cloud chambers! denser diamonds in the dross of exploded diamonds!—to our certain uncertainty."
—Michael Martone, author of Plain Air: Sketches from Winesburg, Indiana and The Complete Writings of Art Smith, The Bird Boy of Fort Wayne, Edited by Michael Martone
Tucker Leighty-Phillips (he/him) is a writer from Southeastern Kentucky. He is a graduate of the MFA in Fiction program at Arizona State University. His work has been published in Booth, Adroit Journal, The Offing, Wigleaf, and elsewhere. He has been anthologized in Best Microfiction and received a Notable Mention in Best American Sports Writing. Tucker writes about poverty, Appalachia, children, and family dynamics. His work has been supported by the Tin House Writers Workshop, Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, Art Farm Nebraska, Craigardan, and the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.