In the Company of Animals by Luke Finsaas

February 3, 2016 § 1 Comment

Having recently started editing the chapbooks I’m working on for 2016’s production schedule, I’ve been reflecting on the chapbooks Red Bird put out during 2015. They are definitely the best we’ve put out yet, and as such, I’m a little ashamed I didn’t do more to promote them. No doubt, it was a busy year for me and my family, but I am hoping to make up for it now by highlighting the books I helped put together now. I recently wrote up a piece about Christina Olsen’s Law & Order obsessed The Rook and the M.E. as part of the fan-fic recommendation section over at, and but here I want to highlight Luke Finsaas’ In the Company of Animals.

This was the first book I selected for the 2015 season, and I knew I wanted to publish it as soon as I read it. That said, it took me a while to say yes because I wasn’t sure if I had the guts to work on it. The first story in the collection, “Gospel Boys” is a dark and brutal tale of the Wild (Mid)West, full of inventive language and gruesome scenes; like the stories of Cormac McCarthy that it reminded me of, I found myself both admiring and fearing it. Though similarly unflinching, the second story, “Char-Char’s Dark Days Without Her Brother”, set in present day, felt more comfortable, its perversities somewhat less horrendous and a little more familiar: instead of drunken murder-binges, it features drug-fueled furry porn shoots. In the end, I was amazed that two shorts stories with such intense and different voices could be by the same author: Luke Finsaas is a talent who deserves to be read. As a result, I decided to take the plunge and couldn’t be happier that I did.

I really feel Luke Finsaas’ work here is some of the best prose we have ever published at Red Bird and, further, the stories make a perfect chapbook, really speaking to each other, their similarities made that much eerier by the stark and virtuosic difference in their tones. So check out the excerpt below, then click on the cover to head on over to Red Bird’s website to get your gorgeous, hand-bound copy today.

From “Gospel Boys”

My brother Matthew drove his shoulder through the front door and the rest of us Gospel Boys plowed in to find the whole damn family kneeling down in a circle on the living room floor, some sorta singing and wailing thing transpiring, grey baby laid out on a bed of straw in the center of it all, and Matthew fired his shotgun into the ceiling and told them to all keep on the floor, and their women commenced to bowing down to us, holding white napkins fixed upon their scalps, rectifying their askew black robes, salt tears streaming through the soot and dirt been caked onto their faces. They’d managed a look up at us scared as a cow seeing a bull whose heart was full of lustful intentions. Sulfur lamps dangled down in the room. That baby’s eyes were shut up like a pair of tiny onionskin papers. Their Pa raised himself up, full of purpose and my brother Johnny shotgunned him back down to those dusty floorboards, his legs kicking out in spasms and him clutching his chest spurting up blood and he was hissing…


§ One Response to In the Company of Animals by Luke Finsaas

  • Dana says:

    Very well said, Evan. Luke’s writing is both vivid and startling. The stories remain in your consciousness for a long time. They are compelling, if somewhat disturbing. I am very proud that Red Bird published these stories and as always, amazed at your critical judgement and your willingness to take chances. I am hoping to read more of Luke’s writing.

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