Red Bird Chapbooks
Published January, 2018
Messiah Tortoise contains ten linked stories, each taking place in the same zoo. In this structurally innovative and darkly humorous chapbook, readers find a tortoise with stigmata marks, an agoraphobic grizzly bear, disappearing flamingos, a group of teenagers playing paintball with lemurs, and several rightfully disgruntled zoo employees. Beneath these conceits are subtler stories of loss, isolation, and a few threads of hope. Amid a collection that is fundamentally animalistic, readers gain several glimpses into what it means to be human.
“James R. Gapinski’s Messiah Tortoise is like a trip to a zoo after a pink cloud of nitrous has settled overhead. You’re elated, you’re having fun, and you’re in tune in a way that surprises you. It’s Gapinski as absurdist zookeeper who makes the trip worthwhile, doling out delightful vignettes that you greedily gobble up, and that stay with you long after you’ve left.”
–Lindsay Hunter, author of Eat Only When You’re Hungry
“The dark, smart absurdity of James R. Gapinski’s writing jolts and delights in equal measure. Gapinski responds to today’s zigzag world with innovative form and gut-punching pathos. Messiah Tortoise is a beast of a chapbook.”
–Ashley Farmer, author of The Women