Winter Dance Party
Buddy Holly’s Crash Site in Flash
by Brett Biebel
In the wee hours of a cold winter morning, the plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson crashed in a remote Iowa field, killing all three musicians, and forever marking February 3rd, 1959, as “the Day the Music Died.” The 59 linked flash stories in Winter Dance Party focus on the obsessions and indifferences of the inhabitants who still live near that field, as well as on the development company that bought the property—and what cash-grab designs they might have for a big empty piece of Americana. Amidst flyover-country pranks and bowling-alley shenanigans are the struggles between those who want to stop the commercialization, those desperate for the tourist dollars, and those caught in between. Told in crisp, lyrical prose, this is the fragmented story of tragedy and aftermath, filled with that American determination to profit off them both.
Content Warning: death, mild language, suicide, cruelty to insects, mild bullying, troubled domestic situations, murder, drug use, pornography, sexual language and situations
“Winter Dance Party is a wild and wise collection of fever dreams set in an ailing Iowa. Brett Biebel’s down-and-out denizens are compelling kooks you can’t help but love. These are short stories bursting with big lives.”
author of New Bad News
“Brett Biebel’s Winter Dance Party is an incredible glossolalia of haunted voices. His characters speak in tongues and dance in the flames of a still-burning plane crash—each of them febrile, sweating, panting—and his prose is as psychically infectious as rock & roll. This is the Midwest as you’ve never seen it, and Biebel’s sophomore collection is better than you can possibly imagine.”
author of Ghosts Caught on Film
“Brett Biebel’s debut collection, 48 Blitz, called to my Nebraska heart, and I’ve followed him ever since. He’s upped the ante with his latest collection, Winter Dance Party, where he deftly answers two fundamental questions: Why do we cling to history, and is progress always a good thing? Always present in these 59 stories are the ghosts from that night in 1959, when the music died in Clear Lake, Iowa. The characters we come to know in Winter Dance Party feel the spectral pull of the past in their bones, as they love and fight, give the middle finger to big business and big developers, and often struggle simply to find something or someone to hold on to. Biebel masterfully weaves parentheticals throughout many of these stories, paying homage to how many middle-America oral storytellers constantly interject seemingly insignificant bits of exposition in their tales. But they’re not insignificant. We meander, we divagate. But pay attention, because we’re connecting the dots of our intersecting lives, culminating in the human collective. East and West Coasters think there’s something different, something a little off, about those of us in Flyover Country. Biebel is here to tell you we’re not so different. In fact, we’re just as aimless and disconnected, yet always grasping for more, as the rest of you.”
—L Mari Harris,
editor of Trampset
“Winter Dance Party encompasses the Buddy Holly plane crash, the roadside attraction, how it affected people in the surrounding area, and how it continues to do so. The characters are your neighbors, the people you see around town, learn about through gossip, or encounter one strange night in a bowling alley or empty field. You get to know them throughout the loose ties of the stories, weaving your way through the cornfield and the parentheticals inside of parentheticals that read like whispers in your ears. In this book, Biebel’s deft writing captures the obsession and mystery surrounding pop culture history.”
author of Won’t Be By Your Side
“In Winter Dance Party, Brett Biebel takes us on a nostalgic 1950s musical journey through the Midwest in prose that sparkles with the melody of sunsets over cornfields. These flash fictions take us back to an era of optimism cloaked in ash and chemicals. Biebel writes with urgency and pathos, putting us in the boots and tuxedos, the aprons and hairnets of these humble characters, risking it all for another kiss, inhale, drink, or soft touch between hours of manual labor and the desperate yearning to live well or die trying. Biebel moves from satire to realism, to the wacky and uncontainable, with stories pulsing with life and verve! I know these people, and still I read to find out their secrets. Biebel in language and craft doesn’t disappoint!”
author of Hollows
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• Stories | Flash Fiction | Midwest
• 5” x 8” Perfectbound Trade Paperback
• Cream Paper, 162 Pages
• Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-946580-34-4
• Paperback ISBN-10: 1-946580-34-1
• Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-946580-35-1
• Hardcover ISBN-10: 1-946580-35-X
• Ebook ISBN-13: 978-1-946580-36-8
• Ebook ISBN-10: 1-946580-36-8
• LCCN: 2023942316
• First Edition: July 25, 2023
• Short URL: tinyurl.com/winterbiebel
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• Download Press Release
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Cover design by Leah Angstman, with some elements by Supichaya Sookprasert of Neang Art, Krista Monique, Matthew Priest, and Mohamed Hassan.
BRETT BIEBEL is the author of 48 Blitz and Winter Dance Party. His short fiction has been included in dozens of literary journals and anthologized by Best Small Fictions and Best Microfiction. It’s also been listed as part of Wigleaf’s annual Top 50 Very Short Stories (2021). He writes and teaches in Illinois.
• Interview on X-Ray Lit
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