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Every Kiss a War

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  153 ratings  ·  33 reviews
The twenty-seven stories in Leesa Cross-Smith’s debut short story collection Every Kiss a War are set to the sounds of "frogs and crickets out back, steam-pulsing like a machine" and "a sad country song that hasn’t been written yet." Men and women love and leave over cigarettes and shots of kitchen table whiskey. She takes us down Kentucky roads in the back of a pickup ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published April 21st 2014 by Mojave River Press
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Average rating 4.42  · 
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 ·  153 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: mine
I WROTE THIS BOOK. Twenty-seven little stories about love & light & boys who listen to Neil Young & girls who listen to Liz Phair & Kentucky & whiskey & fireworks & fights & baseball & cowboys & complicated feelings & kitchen kisses. I THINK YOU'LL LIKE IT TOO. <3
Michael Smith
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Admittedly, I'm biased-- Leesa Cross-Smith is one of my favorite fiction writers and since I'm the publisher of this sublime collection, I've not only read it many times over, I can share some wonderful comments by noted authors re: Every Kiss a War...

Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State and everything else anyone is reading, tells us "Leesa Cross-Smith is a consummate storyteller who uses her formidable talents to tell the oft-overlooked stories ... creating crisp, evocative moments that will
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Here is a book of incomparable beauty: lush in language, born of soul, full of heart, rooted in all that matters, a living breathing thing.
Steve Karas
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Every Kiss a War is a special book by an exceptionally talented writer. I don’t know anyone who writes quite like Leesa Cross-Smith. Her writing is mystical and sensual, her language wild and imaginative. These twenty-seven stories are raw and ferocious, each like a lit book of matches in your hand, about relationships and hope and hurt and love and love-making, with characters whose emotions are on full display, unrestrained. She gives us “Bible-black bruises” a heart that’s a “heavy, loaded ...more
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Read the stories Leesa Cross-Smith has made for us here and remember the cheap beer & the old songs & fireworks & cowboys & ‘ice clinky frontier whiskey’ & kisses that feel like tiny wars. Remember these things as if they happened to you because they did. Her writing is exquisite and fearless, exposed and bleeding onto the page. Every story without exception is smart, gentle, heartbreaking, and most importantly, real.
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I sat down to read a few stories and ended up finishing the first half the book in that sitting, the second half in the next. Beautiful little stories about life and love, with lush lines that you want to read over and over again. Currently haunting me: the story "Like Light." And this: "She collected them like dented bottle caps, flicked them from her thumb when she was finished." And the title of the collection is amazing.
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love Leesa's love for country music, romance, drinking, baseball, and being human. She writes beautifully of relationships and the ways lovers communicate or miscommunicate. These stories make me wish we lived in the same city, so we could go out for beers and talk about life. A great and insightful collection.
Bud Smith
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Flat out phenomenal. Little stories that are in truth bigger than the moon, could crush the moon and sometimes do. Harvest moons. Blue moons. Moons over the farm. Moons over the lake. Aching. Beautiful. Make ya hurt stories, in my opinion, required reading for anyone who loves or wants to love.
Alice Kaltman
Apr 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What can I say? Gritty, real, sad, funny, sexy. Cross-Smith is a master at making love stories out of small moments,with authentic voices ringing throughout this story collection/novella/wonder. BRAVO!
These stories were sweet, savory, and sprinkled with a delicacy only southern writers can give. They were real. They were genuine. They reminded me that love and like are both complicated. I didn't want any of them to end.
Justine Knight
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I ended up reading this entire book in one day and I couldn't put it down, I even read it at work. Saw one of Smith's short stories in a literary magazine and decided to check it out. Very pleased I did.
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Just about the sexiest thing I've ever read.

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Scott Daughtridge
Nov 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Relationship stories usually bore the shit out of me, but Leesa finds the rawest nerves in her characters and makes them sparkle. I loved every story.
Amanda Gale
Jul 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is powerful and inspirational. The emotions are so raw, and the language is so beautiful. Every line reads like poetry. I found myself reading more slowly than I normally would because I was stopping so often to let the words sink in.

These stories explore human frailty and also the simple joys of everyday life, and the bittersweet nature of it all. I could imagine the characters so clearly because I know them all. I think part of what makes these stories so powerful is that the author
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate enough to be asked to read and blurb an advanced copy of Leesa Cross-Smith's debut collection, and was blown away:

“Leesa Cross-Smith’s Every Kiss A War is an emotional battlefield, a perfectly written anatomy of the human condition—the good, the bad, the quiet moments that define our relationships—that you can’t help but pick yourself out in the pages, can’t help but be pulled into her sumptuous writing, her words becoming your favorite quilt to cover you from the cold.”

Susan Rukeyser
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Leesa Cross-Smith’s tiny stories brim with love and light and sometimes loneliness. They are wise and kind. The language is just right. The author’s voice is assured yet playful. Her characters, sweet yet flawed. The world of her stories becomes a place we know well. It becomes a place we want to stay.
Robert Vaughan
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a dazzling assortment of stories that range in depth, blistering and oozing emotional tension and lyrically rich prose. I was a fan of Cross-Smith's stories since the first time I ever read her work online. So glad this book exists! Read her, you will be in love with her writing just like everyone else, and for all the right reasons! A terrific collection.
My only problem with this collection is not with the writing--which is vibrant, sensuous, emotional--but with the flash form itself. I simply wanted to know more about these characters than such short stories can supply.
May 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful book. Full of heartbreak and love and that brimming-over feeling of not knowing what to do with yourself except to continue on as you always have. Hold your hand out for someone to take it.

Hope to write more on this soon, more than the post-read emptying high.
Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
there are like 87 lines in this book I want to tattoo on my flesh. as if they won't stay with me otherwise, which is laughable.
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Author interview here.
Kima Jones
Thoughts to come...

I have them.
Al Kratz
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Such a great collection. She's able to write things like "break-up" stories which could be so risky to being cliche, but she overcomes that with passion. These stories live and bleed.
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Leesa's lovers are observant and frank and they introduce you to a bottomless world of emotion--from turmoil to satisfaction. Inspired.
Jeida K.
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Leesa’s Prose is Unmatched

Leesa Cross-Smith already convinced me she was brilliant after reading her debut novel, Whiskey & Ribbons, but with Every Kiss a War she has managed to convince me she has even more levels of depth, passion, and prose to offer the world. This collection of short stories read like character vignettes, allowing us access into the most vulnerable and secret places of memorable and poignant people. Cross-Smith seductively lures us into twenty-seven different stories
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A delightful little book of short stories, especially a propos for anyone enjoying infatuation or spiraling from a serious crush :) I found the book here:
Windy Harris
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A stunning collection of short stories.
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So glad we read this for book club. Bri made me read a couple of these stories before, but so many are so good.
Favorite stories were "Making Cowboys," "What the Fireworks Were For," (and the other two with Violet) and "Whiskey and Ribbons." Among others, of course. We were paging through and talking about it in book club, and I kept thinking "oh, yes, I loved that one!"
So good.
Kim Alkemade
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've been mesmerized by the stories in this collection; floored, really is more like it. A master class in flash fiction. In a few deft strokes Leesa sets the reader down in a fully realized situation with unique characters who become completely real in just a handful of perfectly chosen words. I don't usually read ebooks, but I found these stories are actually perfect to read on my iPhone because they are so short and the format in iBooks works really well. Instead of mindlessly browsing some ...more
Erin Lyndal
Jan 29, 2017 rated it liked it
The writing here is really amazing and memorable, and Cross-Smith comes up with some stunning lines that ring out in small spaces. While I enjoyed the stories a lot, I felt that having most of them focused on drama in hetero relationships made them run together, and I wanted her to shake up the plot, or at least the form or some of the character traits so as to set the stories apart.
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Leesa Cross-Smith is a homemaker and writer from Kentucky. She is the author of the novel WHISKEY & RIBBONS (Hub City Press, 2018), the short story collection EVERY KISS A WAR (Mojave River Press, 2014), the forthcoming short story collection SO WE CAN GLOW (Grand Central Publishing, 2020) and novel THIS CLOSE TO OKAY (Grand Central Publishing, 2021). WHISKEY & RIBBONS won the 2019 ...more
“How sometimes your body couldn't tell the difference between not loving someone enough and loving someone too much.” 2 likes
“He kisses like a dying man. He kisses like he worships women. Your mouth is his church.” 0 likes
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