“Ron Tanner’s Kiss Me, Stranger would be remarkable for the eerie simplicity of the text alone, but his seemingly guileless illustration flip this impressive book into another dimension, well outside the spectrum of post-apocalyptic narratives than runs from Riddley Walker to The Road.” —Madison Smartt Bell, author of The Devil’s Dream
“Here is a mordant romp, a ballad in the key of grit. Kiss Me, Stranger posits a cartoon future uncomfortably credible, in which scrap iron is more valuable than gold, rival militias are interchangeable, and the garbage rises to engulf us. How remarkable, then, that children, generosity, resilience, and love still tug at us in the old way. Bravo!”—Janet Burroway, author of Bridge of Sand
“Beautiful and absurd, clever and inventive, Ron Tanner’s speculative eco-fiction is a terrifying story for our times.”—Michael Kimball, author of Dear Everybody
“Ron Tanner’s amazing amalgam of a book, Kiss Me, Stranger, has done the impossible, namely, simultaneously alloying a dark dystopic landscape with a dreamy demonicly manic state of stone-cold wonderfulness. This book out-hybrids any hybrid you can imagine, cobbling it together (with shit-kicking genius) inside the gaping maw of awe, deep, deep in our big ol’ oxygen starved brains.” Stunning.—Michael Martone, author of Racing in Place
“Ron Tanner has all the right wires crossed in his head, his imagination smoking, short-circuiting, his sentences snapping with a wild electricity in KISS ME STRANGER, a dystopic novel that reads like some wonderfully disturbed bastard child of Vonnegut and Orwell.”— Benjamin Percy, author of The Wilding, Refresh, Refresh, and The Language of Elk
Set in an unnamed country sometime in the past, present, or future, Kiss Me, Stranger is the story of one woman’s attempts to keep her family together while a civil war rages around her. Penelope, her husband and her fourteen children live in a small war-torn country built atop a landfill. After her husband and eldest son are drafted by opposing factions in the war, Penelope and her remaining children, desolate and nearly starving, are forced to scavenge for scrap—comprised of discarded consumer goods such as computers, televisions and automobiles—in the bombed-out city. When the government scrap collector makes an unreasonable demand in already unreasonable circumstances, Penelope slaps him across the face, leading to her arrest. Her subsequent escape sends her family on a journey literally into the heart of the landfill, where they come face to face with the stupidity, destruction and at times, dark humor, of war and modern consumer society.
Featuring over fifty illustrations by the author, Kiss Me, Stranger is a comical and tragic commentary on war, violence, and consumerism.
Ron Tanner’s awards for fiction include a Faulkner Society gold medal, a Pushcart Prize, a New Letters Award first prize, a Best of the Web Award, and many others. He has won fellowships from the Copernicus Society, Sewanee Writers Conference, and the National Park Service, to name a few, and his stories have appeared in dozens of literary magazines, including The Iowa Review, West Branch, and the Quarterly. His collection of stories, A Bed of Nails, won both the G.S. Sharat Chandra award and the Towson Prize for Literature and is now in its second printing. He teaches writing at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland, and directs the Marshall Islands Story Project (mistories.org).