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Charactered Pieces
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Charactered Pieces

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  76 ratings  ·  30 reviews
With Charactered Pieces, Caleb J. Ross presents a varied world of familial discord, one where a dead fetus evokes more compassion than its mother (“Charactered Pieces”); where two brothers offer the destruction of a family legacy as a birthday gift for their aging father (“My Family’s Rule”); where one brother’s love of Holocaust documentaries pushes his family through the ...more
Paperback, 66 pages
Published November 16th 2009 by OW Press (first published 2009)
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Transubstantiate by Richard   ThomasCharactered Pieces by Caleb J. RossCienfuegos by Chris DealWelcome to Oakland by Eric Miles WilliamsonPike by Benjamin Whitmer
Blurbed by: Stephen Graham Jones
2nd out of 13 books — 7 voters
Curious George by H.A. ReyHow Not to Murder Your Grumpy by Carol E. WyerThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonWatchmen by Alan MooreOne Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
Yellowest Books Ever
194th out of 805 books — 393 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 133)
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Paul Eckert
The stories in Charactered Pieces cover a lot of ground, such as family tension, personal identity, aging, depression, strangers, death...and oh yeah, a fetus-in-fetu. In other words, the hallmarks of good literary fiction.

But wait, there's more. Ross doesn't write dull, self-congratulatory literary fiction. His sentences are lean, stripped of the unnecessary, leaving only words that bring the characters to life.

The characters are wonderfully flawed (as the title suggests), their hopes, joys,
Craig Wallwork
Part of the curriculum of any swimming class is confidence in water. To demonstrate this, a child in their first year of high school will be required to jump, or dive, into the deep end of the pool and swim a full length using their chosen technique. I had, three years previous to this happening, passed both bronze and silver certificates in swimming lengths of the pool. However, I had never jumped into any amount of water that exceeded my height. It was a new school, with new friends and peers. ...more
Colin McKay Miller
Caleb J. Ross’ Charactered Pieces may have an unconventional structure that succeeds on some levels and fails on others, but it’s a solid short story collection from the Outsider Writer’s Press.

Without a doubt, Caleb J. Ross is a talented writer. His short stories are widely published, and even if there is a little too much Chuck Palahniuk influence for my taste (not overkill, just enough for me to wish the influence got buried deeper), it’s easy to see why his work is spreading far and wide. T
Nicholas Karpuk
The stories of Caleb Ross have a tendency to stick sideways in my brain. Most of them have interesting plots, poetic prose, and they flow quite nicely. The thing is, there's often an subtle element of surrealism that I can't quite pin down effectively. There seems to be one detail that's off, and the way characters react to it is never quite what I would have expected.

I went through the whole book with the feeling like it was a very lucid dream. Reaching the last page, I didn't have as much to s
Kristin Fouquet
This collection of stories is one of the best I’ve read in a long time. The short form has always been my preference. I admire when a writer can take us immediately in and then release us in short duration. When it works, it is exhilarating. Caleb J. Ross delivers this.

The stories in Charactered Pieces are dark, sometimes disturbing, and anxious. I found a theme of parental angst stream through many of them. It was enjoyable to spend some time in the mind of Caleb J. Ross, but in the end, it was
Simon West-bulford
A big sigh. That's what I did when I got to the end of Caleb's collection of short stories. It's obvious to point out that each of the stories has its own personality, but there's something in every one of them that provoked the same reaction from me - they reminded me how to feel compassion in the face of repugnance. The writing is carefully measured, deliberately crafted to draw upon a certain melancholy but in a way that doesn't disuade you from reading on - these characters do move you and l ...more
Caleb Ross
I'm the author, but it's cool if I review the book, right? True, it seems obvious that I would think this book is worth a 5-star rating, thus negating the need for me to comment. But, when the opportunity to be an egomaniac arises, I take it.

Seriously, though, there's some good stuff on these pages.
Vicki Nikolaidis
Do you ever wonder where the Charactered Pieces go? Where we shuffle off to during the day, barely visible in the bright sunshine? Do we sleep at night like others? Do we simply slump to the ground when tired?
We live not so differently than the rest of you really, but without the worries of your concerns with superficiality. We have enough reality to keep us occupied.
Caleb J. Ross can seemingly observe the unobservable. He beautifully describes the lives of the ignored, the misplaced, the ostrac
A short book of short stories offered for free as an ebook from the author, for which I am grateful, as he’s putting himself “out there” for feedback with no monetary recompense. This is my first foray into the mind of Mr. Ross, and it’s a heck of a ride. The stories themselves (some seven of them) are populated with tragic, very flawed people, making it somewhat of an emotional trek to get through them. The plots are mere vehicles for the internal conflicts and largely negative, complex relatio ...more
Mel Bosworth
Caleb J Ross’s short story collection Charactered Pieces is a celebration. It’s a celebration of characters who are cursed. With life.

Whether destructive, apathetic, misshapen or addicted, the characters in this collection continue to chug forward like damaged locomotives that refuse to derail. Their power, it seems, is in their imperfections, and Ross shows us, without a doubt, he is a master of tragedy made gorgeous.

In My Family’s Rule, a father and his two sons look on as a hospital is demo
Feb 07, 2010 Nate rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Nate by:
My apologies to the author, who I do not know personally, but this chapbook of stories largely left me nonplussed. I have mixed feelings about these stories.

To quote Mel's review: "Whether destructive, apathetic, misshapen or addicted, the characters in this collection continue to chug forward like damaged locomotives that refuse to derail. Their power, it seems, is in their imperfections, and Ross shows us, without a doubt, he is a master of tragedy made gorgeous." Largely, I agree with this st
I had read another book by this author and it really wasn't my thing. However he was nice enough to send me this book also so I thought "What the hell? What have I got to lose." WEll...

(screamed with sarcasm and eye rolling)

I have had nightmares all day and night from the story "Charactered Pieces". Oh My God !! At the end, when Lori sits down to paint Monicas toes, I thought I was going to die, from laughing so hard and yet being sooooo grossed out at the same time. Rea
Kristine Muslim
The characters in Caleb J Ross’s Charactered Pieces are flawed and disfigured in the most unimaginable ways possible. There’s Lori who had the “underdeveloped left leg of her fetus-in-fetu sister protruding from her gut.” There’s the pseudo-prophet, Abel, who drank the blood of a camel. And there’s the masterpiece “The Camp,” my favorite story in the book, starting ominously with one of the best first lines I’ve read: “My mother doesn’t use hangers anymore.”

Caleb J Ross is not only a storytelle
Characterized Pieces by Caleb J. Ross Published by OW Press 2009,

Do you ever wonder where the Charactered Pieces go? Where we shuffle off to during the day, barely visible in the bright sunshine? Do we sleep at night like others? Do we simply slump to the ground when tired?

We live not so differently than the rest of you really, but without the worries of your concerns with superficiality. We have enough reality to keep us occupied.

Caleb J. Ross can seemingly observe the u
In the opening story of Caleb J. Ross’ new collection, the main character invents the term charactered pieces as a euphemism for diamonds with obvious cracks and flaws. In many ways Lori is a charactered piece herself – mostly due to the foot of her fetus-in-fetu sister that protrudes from her belly. Then of course there is mom, a bit of a flawed gem herself, who had half-her face blown off in a beer-commercial mishap. Yet, she seems convinced that somehow all the defects can be covered up, if o ...more
A few days ago I logged in to goodreads and saw that one of the "sponsored books" was Caleb J. Ross's "Charactered Pieces." The title and the cover art caught my eye, so I went directly to the Outsiders Press website. Looks good, I thought to myself. Good enough to buy.

Being a cheapskate, but more importantly, wanting instant gratification, I opted for the PDF ebook edition.

These are great stories; stories that will stick with you, and with characters that will stick with you. Although there's
Feb 26, 2012 Rudra rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: prose poetry lovers, people who read tone driven novels
Recommended to Rudra by: Caleb J Ross
An interesting assortment of short stories coming from a author who almost uses poetic prose, ambiguity and a vividly descriptive tone to pack the stories together. From the struggles of a young woman with the corpse of her dead sister engraved in her body, to families coping with loss ( death or separation), to the struggle of a perpetually depressed man against depression, to men warding off a devastating curse, to affections between a estranged father and a child and finally the familiarity a ...more
When you open this book, there’s a title page that simply says “Charactered Pieces”, nothing more. In a handwritten note, the author, Caleb J. Ross, wrote at the top of this page, right above the title, “Sal, you are one of the…”

As I read through this short story collection, I began to realize that the author’s message to me was actually true. These are stories about flawed, broken people who care. This isn’t an existentialist pity party. These are, as the back cover states, “stories of hope”. I
Caleb J. Ross's 66 page chapbook titled Charactered Pieces should be read and discussed. It's simply worth talking about. So if I may...

Incisively honest, nauseatingly powerful, borderline voyeuristic. All in the best way.

This collection leads you along a razor's edge of human vulnerability and frailty, poised to catch you off guard at every turn and cradle you the moment you break. And you will break, if you have a heart at all.

But these stories don't scar you, they stir the memory of your own
Apr 16, 2012 Cathleen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the genre
Charactered Pieces is such an interesting read. Some of the stories are very disturbing in nature. The gritty, stark and sometimes depraved nature of how these stories are written is both disturbing and provoking. I had many emotions and thoughts as I went from story to story. The Camel Of Morocco stands out as one that made me feel the most disgust as I visualized the bloodletting and drinking. The story that I enjoyed the most is The Camp for the sheer human emotion felt at the loss of a loved ...more
This is the second collection of short stories I've read from Caleb Ross, and his talent for writing has yet to let me down.

When I read these short stories, I just feel...FEEL. I FEEL...ALL EMOTIONS. There we go. Well, I feel mostly melancholy. These stories are dark, uncomfortable, and painful. The characters are vivid, full of life, HUMAN. As a reader, I became way too emotionally attached to them. It's crazy. The writing is fluid, moving. Plots are kind of disturbing, but I couldn't stop read
Brandon Tietz
Bottom line and up front: Ross has got some serious talent.

That much becomes obvious on the first page and with each successive one. In "Charactered Pieces," Ross plays doctor on the reader, either by tugging on the heart strings or twisting the knife in your gut. Each story has an intended effect, whether it's a nostalic longing or an uncomfortable self-awareness to our flaws, and Ross showcases his ability with succint accuracy and haunting wordplay. These are the kind of stories you think abo
Much like the scratch-n-dent jewelry of the title story's namesake, these flawed characters make their way through the treacherous literary terrain of Ross's imagination, blasted by sandstorms and demolition crews, derided by their families and coworkers, wracked with guilt, and and seeking redemption in the fleeting margins between their text and your thumb. As seen under the cruel magnification of a loupe, these defects are but facets, however, and Ross's sales pitch emphasizes the sentimental ...more
While there is weirdness in these stories, not to mention biblical allegories and tales of suicide and the holocaust, what lingers is an underlying thread about the impact parents, fathers in particular, have on our lives whether through their presence or more often their absence. Ultimately, the stories are like a collective punch to the chest, though none more so than An Optimist is the Human Personification of Spring which caused me to lose my breath for a fleeting moment as I sat on the trai ...more
Richard Thomas
There is a great variety of fiction in this collection. The one thing they have in common is the power that resonates, the echo of the stories after you've closed the book. Flawed characters are always the most captivating, layered, and human, and these stories are no exception. I've read a lot of stories by Ross, and this is a great compilation of his work. He's been widely published online and in a handful of anthologies, but I always enjoy his work. This is a great way to get to know his writ ...more
Austin James
Writing that moves you is hard to find while wading through the debris of mainstream literature.

Caleb’s homespun flavor of modern tragedy will move you–surely as a swan dive into oncoming traffic.

Character Pieces might be compared to being in a bad relationship: you fall deeper and deeper in love as your heart breaks over and over again. You won’t forget these words, even if (for some ungodly reason) you wanted to.

All you really want is more.
Chris Bodor
I read this book in one sitting while I was in the doctor's office having a stomach test. The collection of short stories make the time go by quickly. As I read the book, the cryptic front cover image suddenly became apparent. This book is published by the folks at the Outsider Writers Collective. I recommend that you support work like this - words written by writers who exist outsider of the mainstream.
Scott Mcclanahan
Caleb Ross is a modern day John Brown of Kansas. Read Charactered Pieces and he'll split your head open with his Pottowatamie prose.
Justin Nicholes
a wonderful, surreal journey
Caleb J Ross just gave me an 'eyegasam' reading his short story collection, CHARACTERED PIECES. His sensual words dances across my vision and stroked my being to full arousal. I can now count myself as part of the minions who heterosexually swoon at the words of Caleb J Ross. Thanks!

Charactered Pieces is a small collection of short stories that can best be summed up as examinations of the human condition. Familial relationships are dominant themes in this book and I've heard th
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Book discussion at 1 3 Jan 20, 2010 10:10PM  
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I have a BA in English Literature and creative writing from Emporia State University. My fiction and nonfiction has appeared widely, both online and in print. I am the author of five books of fiction and is a core contributor to The BookTube Vidcast, a columnist at ManArchy Magazine, and is
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