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Breaking It Down

4.57 of 5 stars 4.57  ·  rating details  ·  72 ratings  ·  20 reviews
In Breaking it Down, Rusty Barnes lays bare the lives of the vulnerable as they traverse the difficult paths of love. Short and punchy, these stories show the cumulative effects of heartbreak and simple dreams while keeping a reserve of hope in even the darkest of circumstances.
Paperback, 104 pages
Published November 8th 2007 by sunnyoutside
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I had the pleasure of meeting author Rusty Barnes at the Boxcar Lounge in the East Village recently. This was the first of a new reading series hosted by Tuesday Shorts' Shelly Rich. He read three stories from his book Breaking it Down, an excellent collection of 18 flash fiction stories in a handy pocket-size paperback.

It's truly amazing what Barnes can accomplish with so few words. A story is considered flash fiction if it is not more than 1,000 words, and Barnes uses even less than that at ti
Katie Moore
Feb 26, 2008 Katie Moore rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who can read
Rusty Barnes proves with this gritty collection two very important points. First, that the short story is most assuredly not a dead art form. People, you can stop spreading that lie. Second he firmly shows me, a very picky woman, that a man can write brilliantly in a female voice. Maybe, just maybe, this book has given me a little more hope for the souls of every man. It is vivid and raw, edgy yet classy. I recommend it to my tattoo artist as well as to my mother.
Apr 02, 2008 Theresa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Everything about this book will surprise you ~ from its slender, itty-bitty size to the way Rusty Barnes manages to craft 18 stay-with-you-forever stories in less than a hundred of those itty-bitty pages.

When the book arrived, I picked it up and thought I'd run through it quickly ~ in an evening, say. But as I read, I found myself wanting, NEEDING to slow down and wait before moving on. I read "What Needs to Be Done," for instance, and couldn't bring myself to just plunge ahead into the next sto
I was lucky to get a copy of this beautifully designed book. The stories don't disappoint, either. Barnes has his own voice, something hard to develop, and stories like "Beamer's Opera" and "Dance" stood out for me. Gritty, humanistic, with no pat endings. I look forward to the next book.
Breaking it Down is genius, sort of the drunken bastard child of Breece Pancake and Raymond Carver, and filled with drowned children, adultery, dead dogs and ultrasounds.
Greg Gerke
Wonderful, gritty, and at times squimishly erotic.
Daniel Clausen
This slim volume of short stories punches way above its weight.

When I first saw the volume, tiny with multiple flash fiction entries, I thought I would finish the entire thing within an hour or so of reading. I was wrong, and it turned out to be a great thing.

Many of the stories are so lively and dense that it took two readings just to get caught up in the world. And each story, though small, is a different world. The stories don't interconnect, and you have the feeling that the author knows t
Rusty Barnes' Breaking it Down is a book of flash fiction which explores the lives of rural working class/poor characters. Products of their environments, the characters often seem to be motivated by sex and violence. For example, the main character in the opening story titled "What Needs to Be Done" tolerates her loveless marriage by having an ongoing affair with her husband's youngest brother. In another story, "Thunder & Putsy" the main character loses his hunting dog in a violent "accide ...more
Rusty Barnes can slip into any skin. He inhabits God as He shakes some paternal passion into Pink--who's got a Harley parked outside the obstetrician's, a pregnant girlfriend in the stirrups, and an unwanted sonogram in his hand. "You are not moving, and I understand that, beause I'm finally getting through to you," says God, who could almost be leaning in the doorway with a beer, "the least little bit of knowledge has cracked your brainpan, and buddy…" Barnes inhabits a husband watching a woman ...more

The grit of these stories stays with you for a long time, and better yet, these well written micro/flash stories are moving as well as unforgettable. Things are often not what they seem but in very creative ways. They can be opposite of where the reader thinks they are going or completely over the edge of the cliff the reader is balancing on.

The story "Beamer's Opera," is an amazing tapestry of work which can be viewed in more than one way. It, as all 18 of the stories in Breaking It Down, was
Xujun Eberlein
Measuring in at 4 by 5 inches, Barnes' little book tells 18 stories that are both poignant and memorable. Barnes is a master of Flash Fiction, who says more in a paragraph than can usually be found in a page. (Read more on ...more
Earthy, gritty, and real. These stories and the quality of the prose reminded me of Chris Offutt and Larry Brown.
Jai Clare
Mar 05, 2008 Jai Clare rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
wonderful characters, great prose, READ!
Jan 26, 2008 Donna rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who enjoy well-crafted, thought-provoking flash fiction
As I read—or more accurately, devoured—Rusty Barnes’ collection of flash fiction, I couldn’t help thinking of an exquisite Japanese Buddhist meal with its a tray of tiny dishes, each serving up a tidbit of austere, perfectly-crafted, and ultimately enlightening fare. Fresh images and elegant prose make a bracing contrast to the gritty and all-too-real characters who populate these brief tales. Often unable to inarticulate their desires and despair, they ultimately do find the strength to do “wha ...more
Samuel Snoek-Brown
While these stories are all more vignettes than the fully developed short-shorts of Barnes's stunning Mostly Redneck, all the other Barnes hallmarks are here: the stark but poetic prose, the attention to character detail that feels quaint until it slaps you in the face, the quiet enormity of everyday lives.... It's a fast read, and sometimes it feels too fast, but only because Barnes's writing is addictive and you end each story craving the next fix. Thank goodness I now have Barnes's first nove ...more
Many thanks to sunnyoutside for publishing a book I can carry in my back pocket, and to Rusty Barnes for writing such a wonderful collection of stories. The characters in Breaking it Down--a collection of 18 very short stories--live on rural farms as well as behind the facade of well manicured lawns. The writing is sharp and clean, the situations often tragic, and the endings leave me touched by the humanity of characters driven to cheat on partners, ignore phone calls that may be from their chi ...more
A magnificent read. Barnes' characters are full of longing and hope, even as they stand in dark or bleak places.
A terse, and well-made collection of stories. It was my first Barnes book--and I'll be getting others!
A small, but handsome, book of short and hard stories I really enjoyed.
Jan 11, 2008 Edward added it
A terrific book of short fictions.
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Breaking it Down Nearly Sold Out 1 21 Apr 25, 2008 08:32AM  
  • A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women
  • Oh Baby: Flash Fictions and Prose Poetry
  • Famous Fathers and Other Stories
  • Big Lonesome
  • Things Kept, Things Left Behind
  • The Understory: A Novel
  • Sudden Fiction (Continued): 60 New Short-Short Stories
  • Normally Special
  • Flash Fiction Forward: 80 Very Short Stories
  • Little Monsters
  • Nothing in the World
  • Pieces for the Left Hand: 100 Anecdotes
  • Tongue Party
  • Big World
  • Honeymoon In Hell
  • Chronology of an Egg
  • Corpus Christi: Stories
  • Micro Fiction: An Anthology of Fifty Really Short Stories
Rusty Barnes grew up in Mosherville, Pennsylvania. He received his BA from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and his MFA from Emerson College. His work--flash fiction, fiction, poems--has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals, among them Barn Owl Review, Pindeldyboz, Post Road, Red Rock Review, Salt Flats Annual, SmokeLong Quarterly and Wilderness House Literary Review. He edits the liter ...more
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