The Shell Game

The Shell Game: Writers Play with Borrowed Forms
University of Nebraska Press (now available for pre-order)

"Daring, innovative, and mind-bending."
—Kathy Fish, author of Wild Life

An anthology of intriguing essays that borrow their forms from ordinary, everyday sources: a recipe, a crossword puzzle, a Craig’s List ad... Edited and with an introduction by Kim Adrian, this selection of beautifully written, thought-provoking essays tackles a broad range of subjects, including the secrets of the human genome, the intractable pain of growing up Black in America, and the gorgeous glow residing at the edges of the autism spectrum. Playful and surprising, the essays in this anthology are destined to become classics of this new and increasingly popular form.

"Startling diversity of subject, voice, and form."
—Patrick Madden, author of Sublime Physick

“Virginia Woolf asked of the essay ‘simply that it should give pleasure.’ The Shell Game fulfills this request, even exceeds it, bringing startling diversity of subject, voice, and form."
—Patrick Madden, author of Sublime Physick and Quotidiana

"Daring, innovative, and mind-bending, this anthology showcases the best of what is arguably the most exciting new thing on the literary landscape today: the borrowed form essay."
—Kathy Fish, author of Wild Life


PREFACE by Brenda Miller


Grand Theft Auto by Joey Franklin

Ok, Cupid by Sarah McColl

Rubik’s Cube, Six Twisted Paragraphs by Kathryn A. Kopple

Solving My Way to Grandma by Laurie Easter

Genome Tome by Priscilla Long

As Is by Brian Oliu

Falling In Love With A Glass House: Twenty-Four Views of Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe’s Farnsworth House by Jennifer Metsker

Son of Mr. Green Jeans: an Essay on Fatherhood, Alphabetically Arranged by Dinty W. Moore

Snakes & Ladders by Anushka Jasraj

Math 1619 by Gwendolyn Wallace

We Regret to Inform You by Brenda Miller

The Six Answers on the Back of a Trivia Card by Caitlin Horrocks

Piecing the Quilt of Valor by Judith Sornberger

Self-Portrait as a 1970s Cineplex Movie Theatre (an Abecedarian) by Steve Fellner

The Forgetting Test by Lee Upton

Stagecraft by Mary Peelan

# MISCARRIAGE.EXE by ngrid Jendrzejewski

Section 404 by Cheyenne Nimes

The Body (excerpt) by Jenny Boully

Questionnaire for My Grandfather by Kim Adrian

The Petoskey Catechism, 1958 by Elizabeth Kerlikowske

What Signifies (Three Parables) by David Shields

The Marriage License by Judy Bolton-Fasman

The Heart as a Torn Muscle by Randon Billings Noble

The Spectrum (of Miracles and Mysteries). by Steve Edwards

‘Easy as Pie,’ That’s a Lie by Amy Wallen

Outline Towards a Theory of the Mine Versus the Mind and the Harvard Outline by Ander Monson

The Clockwise Detorsion of Snails: A Love Essay in Sectors by Karen Hays

Contributor’s Note by Michael Martone

POSTSCRIPT by Cheyenne Nimes

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