Fruit Rot

Etchings Press, University of Indianapolis

ISBN 978-1-0878-9821-6

24 pages

Published July 15th, 2020

In this modern fable, a comic book writer and his artsy partner discover a magical tree in their backyard, able to cure any ailment with a single bite—but when the fruit rots, it reveals darker properties. As they begin selling the fruit, the couple is catapulted from near-poverty to a world with limitless economic mobility. Fruit Rot explores family, longing, greed, and the perils of late-stage capitalism through the meteoric rise of this couple’s surreal fruit empire.

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Advance Praise for Fruit Rot

“Gapinski’s talent for making readers uncomfortable while simultaneously offering sacraments of beautiful prose isn’t what makes his writing stand out. Revelations, speculations, and necessary fears are faced in this all-too-realistic story that hits home in a town facing a plague while our world is left to grapple with our own. What maintains the language, heartbreak, and hard life and death choices in Fruit Rot is everything we hide, bury in the backyard, and keep secret for generations. Gapinski has a natural ability to unveil the hidden darkness in life’s inescapable choices with gentleness and care, and in the end, all we have left is one final choice. What will it be? Like the struggle for survival, death is portrayed as an intimate drawing of life’s beauty as well as ugliness, a portrait you will feel consumed with, wanting more and more.”

–Hillary Leftwich, author of Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock 

Fruit Rot is strange, in the best way. This macabre tale offers a brilliant contemporary fable set in a world at once fantastical and too familiar. Using sharp prose and a freshly eccentric voice, Gapinski skillfully illuminates the deep places where pain, fear and injustice live. It’s a darkly funny and imaginative story.”

–Emily Koon, author of We Are Still Here

Fruit Rot is a satire that complicates its subject rather than parodies it; a fable that shuns moralistic conclusions; a rumination on the hexed miracle of finally getting what you want. It’s humor and pop culture and allegory. It’s so many things wrapped in a tight, delightful package. Throughout, James R. Gapinski shows us one thing most of all: the many shapes villainy can take.”

–Zach Powers, author of First Cosmic Velocity