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Lungs Full of Noise

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  125 ratings  ·  28 reviews
This prize-winning debut of twelve stories explores a femininity that is magical, raw, and grotesque. Aghast at the failings of their bodies, this cast of misfit women and girls sets out to remedy the misdirection of their lives in bold and reckless ways. 

Figure skaters screw skate blades into the bones of their feet to master elusive jumps. A divorcee st
Paperback, 128 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by University Of Iowa Press
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  125 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Joseph Spuckler
Feb 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing

Lungs Full of Noise by Tessa Mellas is a collection of twelve short stories. Mellas grew up in Northern New York and earned her BA from St Lawrence University. She earned her MFA from Bowling Green State University and her PhD from the University of Cincinnati. In 2013 She was awarded the Iowa Short Fiction Award. She currently lives in Columbus, Ohio and enjoys a vegan lifestyle.

Since I started reviewing books, I have had some hurdles to clear. Many publishers seem to want to box reviewers into lit
A bit of a disappointment - the story about the female alien, Bibi from Jupiter, who comes down to earth to study at an American university was great; even though the premise was truly absurd (an actual alien from Jupiter comes down to study at an American university like it's a normal thing, and gets roomed with the narrator who tries to make sense of the school and her - it's fun, quirky just enough and most importantly works - it begins and ends like a story should, and leaves an imprint on memory wh ...more
Diane S ☔
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
These are some of the strangest short stories I have ever read and some of the best. Women in desperation doing outlandish and sometimes dangerous things to be better at their craft or to fit in with society's expectations. It is amazing how quickly the strange becomes normal and is just excepted and many times followed.

Wonderfully different and stories I will not soon forget.
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted on my blog, A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall:

Lungs Full of Noise begins with "Mariposa Girls," a short story about figure skaters who go to lengths more and more bizarre in order to be the absolute best. I was instantly reminded of the quirky, outlandish fables in Aimee Bender's The Color Master, so my first reaction was one of pure glee. That feeling never waned.

Although I was reminded of the thrill I get from reading Aimee Bender, Tessa Mellas has a unique and d
Aj Sterkel
Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it
I’m pretty sure this book has one of the greatest covers ever. It’s so perfectly weird. Whoever designed it is brilliant and needs to design more books.

Lungs Full of Noise won the Iowa Short Fiction Award in 2013. I loved one of the other collections that won the Iowa Award, so I decided to give this one a try. Judging by the synopsis, the stories sounded like my kind of bizarre. Now that I’ve read the book, I can confirm that it definitely is bizarre.

Many of these stories focus on c/>Lungs
Dec 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley


First, what a freaking amazing cover!

I can't decide if I would associate these gems with Salvador Dalí or Degas. They demonstrate a writer skilled in the style of surrealism, but they capture the human sorrows in shades of obscure moments that take time to comprehend, but eventually raise the most human of emotions; sadness.

Each have elements of the ghastly, the dark and the whimsical. The stories are dreamlik
Aug 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: other-arcs

Recently, while researching magical realism for a workshop proposal, I discovered a blog post by Rae Bryant at The T.J. Eckleberg Review, in which Bryant responded to the disdain for fabulist prose that is held by some participants in creative writing workshops. “For staunch realism and prose traditionalists," Bryant wrote,"magic realism might as well be poetry.” That statement struck me as funny as well as sad since I don’t perceive poetry to be a lesser art form. However, this blog post did lead me t
Jul 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is another fabulous short story collection that was difficult to put down.
For anyone who loves the macabre, like I do, the book’s cover alone will make you pick it up and read the blurb. Let me tell you, this was one crazy ride. I think my favorite story, though, was the very first one, in which figure skaters nail their skates to their feet in an attempt at being something else, no longer women, but “Mariposa Girls”, or butterfly girls. It’s a visceral story that makes the reader feel a b
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.75 of 5

We know we shouldn't judge a book by a cover, but you can look at the cover of a book to get a general idea of what you might find inside, and Lungs Full of Noise here is a great example.  Looking at the cover as pictured above you might get the impression that the contents within will be a little bit different and highly imaginative, and perhaps a touch frightening.  And you would be right!

Tessa Mellas' co
Melissa Stacy
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I greatly enjoyed this collection of short stories, from the obsessed figure skaters in "Mariposa Girls" to the alien roommate in "Bibi from Jupiter" to sad Mary Lou clinging to her dead ex-husband's arm in "So Many Wings," which was the last story in the book and my favorite. The story "opal one, opal two" was so completely unique and different that I just had to marvel at its novelty, written like poetry with so many gorgeous lines like this one, "a daughter made from velvet and glass and guil ...more
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lungs Full of Noise is a sharp collection of stories by award-winning author Tessa Mellas. The first two stories, "Mariposa Girls" and Bibi from Jupiter" include elements of disfigurement, dangerous sex, and death. Many of the subsequent stories feature these same disturbing themes, as well as elements of magical realism, which are deftly handled. Many of the stories are told from a childlike perspective, which makes the violence more disturbing. A standout for its strangely approachable weirdne ...more
Adela Cacovean
Lungs Full of Noise seemed like an interesting read when I picked it up, but it just wasn't anything close to what I was  expecting. The first story, Mariposa Girls, was rather strange, bizare. The characters in this story were girls who embedded skates in their feet. It had a mysterious atmosphere and made me feel thrilled to continue but the following stories were a disappointment. In the end, I decided to drop its reading as I had other books I was more excited about reading. This one was jus ...more
Gabrielle Carolina
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very odd assortment!

I DNFed two of the short stories, would love to see two lengthened into full-length novels, felt a few had it all, but noticed the author had a real problem with finding a satisfying ending to her plot arcs.

I would recommend this to fans of the literary, the macabre, those who love thinking out of the box and enjoy magical realism!
Mairita (Marii grāmatplaukts)
Visdīvainākie stāsti kādus nācies lasīt. Nemieru raisoši, skaisti, absurdi, nesaprotami.

Most bizarre and disturbing stories I have read so far. At the same time hauntingly beautiful. Strange.
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Assaults our senses with abject weirdness and the bizarre.

More -
Dec 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
Not my cup of tea.
Xavier Carroll
Dec 07, 2013 rated it liked it

Lungs Full of Noise was a horrific and graphic collection of short stories and I was enchanted with every appalling detail. Tessa Mella has created a masterpiece comparable to some of Banksy's darker pieces. The series of short stories mainly pertains to feminine oriented situations. She also writes with a strong sense of metaphor. Unfortunately, some of these metaphors have been butchered to the point that they create confusion that can carry throughout the story.

My favorite story i
Zoe Brooks
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it

Sometimes a book comes along in my magic realism challenge which makes me rethink what makes magic realism work so well for me. Pedro Paramo was one such book and this is another. This is magic realism which is pushing the boundary of form, at times distinctly weird and often verging on poetry. Do all the stories work equally well? No, of course not, but then Mellas' writing wouldn't be experimental if it was predictable.

The subject matter - about being female - is something that I interests me
Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You
not often i find a relatively unknown author with such talent... not often do i read short fiction collections from these same authors and enjoy the experience... Mellas' book is rather special in that respect... quite unique conceptual frameworks, skewed visions of the world, mysterious beings, and wondrous tales of the other side of things... the stories were just long enough to have weight, but not so overly drawn out to beggar their truths...
Rae M.
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved the stories "Mariposa Girls", "Quiet Camp", and "So Much Rain". But out of all of them, I think I loved "So Much Rain" the most, it was just so strange and lyrical. But "Mariposa Girls" was a wonderful way to start, and I must say the morbidness of it really got me excited to read the rest of the stories.

I think that's what I really love about this collection of stories (though I found some of them boring), they can be grotesque and strange and a little gross, but the writing
Nicole Craswell
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

Weird is definitely a good word to describe most of the stories in this book. However it's the kind of weird that is almost beautifully haunting in it's strangeness. Mellas has a way with language that is unprecedented. My personal favorite stories were Quiet Camp and Mariposa Girls. Both of those have really strong feminist themes that are weaved in with the stories in an incredibly elegant way.

This is not a story collection for those of the faint of stomach, several of t
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure how to describe this book. I am tempted to compare it to Margaret Atwood's short stories and prose fiction, in its focus on the grotesqueries, metaphors and realities of a type of female life made manifest. But Mellas breaks open even the metaphors' metaphors. Her women are boxes within boxes with cocoons within berries and fruits and bugs. She doesn't shy from making manifest emotional pain as physical pain (in the first story of the volume, ice skaters screw the blades directly to ...more
Jim Angstadt
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
This is a collection of short stories.
Each of the ones I read had some impossible/imaginary aspect.
That was fine at first, then gave way to routine and expected.

I especially liked the first two:
- Mariposa Girls. Ice skating for the dedicated.
- Bibi from Jupiter. A college room-mate with special needs.

Bailed half way through the book.

This was in the "Favorites" bookshelf of Joseph Spuckler,
so I wanted to give it a try. Thanks JS!
Suzanne Ondrus
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Do you ever not want to finish a book because you don't want the goodness to end? This is how I felt about Lungs Full of Noise. I kept saving the last story to read. Mellas' imagination is incredible. She has such amazingly quirky stories. I love where she takes readers. Great language and descriptions too. I'm still ruminating over how she described a floor's pattern as salami. A must read!
Wando Wande
Feb 02, 2014 rated it liked it
I liked the first story, Mariposa Girls, about overworked ballerina, but after that I found myself struggling to maintain interest in her stories. Her writing is incredibly polished, her imagery crisp, but the stories feel so ... curiously un-involving. Alas not for me. I would still recommend you read them if you like your literary fiction laced with the macabre and the whimsy.
Deborah Snyder
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Strange, but interesting.
DNF: Read 70 pages. Too misty and ethereal. Lots of good ideas, but most of them are quite under-developed, and the idea of character is left by the wayside.
rated it liked it
Jul 15, 2015
Jenni Moody
rated it it was amazing
Sep 26, 2013
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