Vanessa Blakeslee's award-winning short fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared in The Southern Review, The Paris Review Daily, Green Mountains Review, Southern Poetry Review, The Bellingham Review, to name a few, as well as reknowned literary magazines in Canada and Australia. Her short story "Shadow Boxes" won the inaugural Bosque Fiction Prize. An alumnus of the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers' conferences, she also received an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her debut story collection is forthcoming from Burrow Press in early 2014. Visit the Burrow Press Review to read Vanessa's column, "The Shimmying Writer" where she explores writing and dance, and the influence one art form brings to the other.
Notable Writers and Editors on Vanessa Blakeslee's work:
"Fiction writer Vanessa Blakeslee‘s 'Hospice of the Au Pair,' from our Fall 2010 issue, introduces a powerful new voice in fiction. Here is the rare early writer who knows how to build compelling narrative, whose stories hit the ground running — driven forth always by characters in motion rather than the sort of conspicuous craft and propping-up that stilts so much current fiction. The language bristles with comic wit and energy yet never feels precious or, god help us, writerly; it is powered instead by story itself, hence the authority we feel in the language. This is the generous, intelligent style of Saul Bellow, Paula Fox, Ron Carlson. How remarkable, then, to find this in a writer so early in her career, and how lucky." -Editors, Green Mountains Review
"Vanessa Blakeslee is my favorite type of short story writer, one who can seemingly write about anyone or anything in the world without staking a claim on one square mile of literary territory. Her territory is vast and one can easily find oneself in the mind of a train engineer who has just run over someone on his tracks, or a single mother living in a fundamentalist preacher's coach house, or in a philandering ex-pat doctor's bedroom in Costa Rica. I'm continually impressed by how swiftly she's able to drop me into a situation, no matter how far outside my ken, and make me believe what I'm reading. No two stories of hers read alike, though I believe there's something indefinable that makes me think I'd be able to recognize a Vanessa Blakeslee story no matter where I encountered it." --Robin Hemley, author of "Invented Eden" and "Nola"
Of "Mani Rosse," runner-up for the 2009 Tobias Wolff Award in Fiction which appeared in the Spring 2010 issue of The Bellingham Review, judge Kathleen Alcala noted, "A close runner-up is 'Mani Rosse' about the aspiration of an immigrant silk worker to better himself. Louis' suffering is made palpable in his allergy to the silk, which causes the 'red hand.' Louis' inability to share his dream with his wife makes this a poignant and affecting story. This could become part of a novel."
"Vanessa has a good eye for the moment that a change can send a relationship or a situation off on an unexpected course. Her willingness to experiment with form and a wide range of protagonists and characters make for an interesting portfolio of creative work." --Xu Xi, author of "The Unwalled City" and "Hong Kong Rose"
"Perhaps the best of Ms. Blakeslee's fiction is 'Ask Jesus,' a terse, comic story about a man obsessed with an oracular Jesus figure that answers questions through the mechanism of a floating eight ball embedded in its back and his kinky wife with her new silicone implants. The situation is gorgeously (who can forget the Bible Blazer superhero costume?) imagined, the dialogue zippy and dramatic, and the irony clear. Ms. Blakeslee has a vivid and inventive imagination, a talent for inventing loopy comic situations." --Douglas Glover, author of "Elle," winner of the Governor General's Award for Fiction
"Vanessa has a very strong sense of story--her pieces seem to always have an engaging premise, rooted in the conflict between characters, between conflicting desires. The characters themselves come from a wide spectrum of social backgrounds, and Vanessa is quite adept at nailing them in a line or two, thus setting them in their social context. Her work often has an edge beyond her years--and at her best the work balances an edgy irony with a certain fundamental optimism. She is an engaging, talented writer--with a passion for literature and the study of writing." --Domenic Stansberry, author of "The Last Days of Il Duce," an Edgar Award finalist
“Vanessa Blakeslee’s The Firstborn Dreams is an epigrammatic yet emotional journey of candor and discovery. These poems, rich in visual detail, completely immerse the reader in the experience of the outspoken female narrator who traverses inner and outer landscapes of appalling turmoil and utter beauty. This is a deeply satisfying poetry collection that is both thought-provoking and illuminating.” --Lana Hechtman Ayers, author of A New Red and Dance from Inside My Bones, nominated for the National Book Award