Proof of Life examines small moments in the lives of normal people who struggle with the same foibles and baggage we all possess. This focus on human interaction—the things people do for and to one another—captures the human condition in stark contrasts and in every shade of gray. By exploring characters’ emotions and behaviors within the context of recognizable themes such as grief, escapism, disappointment, regret, despair, and brokenness, these tiny stories illuminate lessons in living and challenge us to look more deeply into ourselves. In Proof of Life we find ourselves asking Big Questions: Can we really trust and depend on others? On ourselves? And yet, through it all, our characters somehow keep their foot on the accelerator, always sure of the next best thing, not worrying about how they get there, but blindly focused on the road ahead. In addition to moments of upheaval and loss, there are significant moments of clarity, of forging independence on broad metaphorical levels in precise prose. Indeed, Marshall’s eye for characters and ability to tap into their psychology in limited space needs a standing ovation.
Praise for Proof of Life
In her debut collection, Laurie Marshall vividly paints with metaphor and magic, infusing her visual art background into thirty-four micro and flash fiction stories. She adds dimensionality from a sensory palette of cold-handed teachers, the scents of clove and Pond’s cold cream, cinnamon-colored hair and Polly Pocket plastic. Marshall’s stories are punctuated with touchpoint memories of grief and loss, joy and celebration as she infuses her collection with memorable pop culture and objects like Carol Burnett, Alan Jackson, a 1974 Firebird, Tupperware, and Mountain Dew. Readers won’t search for proof of writing talent in this collection; Marshall offers that on every page!
–Amy Barnes, author of Mother Figures, Ambrotypes and Child Craft
In Proof of Life, Laurie Marshall demonstrates a bright flare for truth and sharply focused observations of both people and relationships. What’s so effective and affecting are the ways she takes these particular and peculiar intimacies, opens them up to a wider view, and invites understanding and recognition, with bite, humour, and some suitable sympathy for the frailties of the human condition. With some deliciously unexpected twists and kaleidescoping expectations, I read this in one sitting, and then started over again. Proof of Life is flash prose at its absolute best.
-Electra Rhodes award winning writer and tutor
Laurie Marshall’s stories dig down into tiny pockets of interior life and re-emerge with treasure. Many characters are caught in in-between spaces, on the verge of a new life: they’re leaving partners, leaving a childhood home, leaving a funeral; while some characters show us that despite everyone’s wish to change them, they’ll be as obstinate as Bartleby and remain the same as ever. In all of Marshall’s stories, a tenderness comes through. Read this book and be astonished.
–Cheryl Pappas, author of The Clarity of Hunger
In Proof of Life, Laurie Marshall takes the reader to places of angst, loss, anger, and humor. She has a gift for capturing the layers of human complexity within a few well-chosen words.
–Talya Tate Boerner, author of Bernice Runs Away
I really enjoyed this wonderful collection of poignant, spirited, and witty stories! Short as they are, they all give vivid proof of life.
–Molly Giles, award-winning author of short fiction collections, Wife With Knife, Rough Translations and Creek Walk, among others.