The stripped-down structure of this story confronts readers with deep-set, trembling emotions so often expressed erratically on the surface. It is a novel that manages, in few words, to devastate with its honesty and fearlessness.
I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying is about caring for others when you can’t manage to care for yourself.
– Down and Out
I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying, a novel in flash fiction, is a raw, honest look at parenting, commitment, morality, and the spaces that grow between and within us when we don’t know what to say. In these 115 titled chapters, a man, who learns he has a 5-year-old son, is caught between the life he knows and a life he may not yet be ready for. This is a book that tears down the boundaries in relationships, sentences, origin and identity, no matter how quickly its narrator tries to build them up.
“Matthew Salesses’ I’m Not Saying, I’m Not Saying is an absolute stunner of a novel. Told in short, sharp vignettes with prose that is taut, yet overflowing with meaning, this is the story of a year in the life of a complex and haunted, cobbled together family. The beauty of Salesses’ writing here lies in his fearlessness, the emotional blows to the heart and head and gut he’s willing to deliver, as if to say: This, this is life! And we are all, in one way or another, survivors.”
—Kathy Fish, author of Together We Can Bury It
“Matthew Salesses has written an extraordinary and startlingly original novel that explores connection and disconnection, the claims and limitations of the self, and the shifting terrain of truth. Poetic, unforgettable, shot through with fury and yearning, I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying captures in clear and chilling flashes our capacity for the cruelty and tenderness of love.”
—Catherine Chung, author of Forgotten Country
“In Matthew Salesses’s smart novel-in-shorts, a newly-minted father flees telling his own story by any means necessary—by sarcasm, by denial, by playful and precise wordplay—rarely allowing space for his emerging feelings to linger. But the truth of who we might be is not so easily escaped, and it is in the accumulation of many such moments that our narrator, like us, is revealed: both the people we have been, and the better people we might be lucky enough to one day hope to become.”
—Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods
“I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying renders the messiness of life, family, love in its myriad complex forms—romance lost and found, blood ties, squandered, unrequited—via 115 micro-stories that add up to a pointillist masterpiece.”
—Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author of Somebody’s Daughter
“Through a series of provocative, beautiful, and at times, brutally raw shorts, Matthew Salesses creates a complex, vulnerable portrait of modern fatherhood and masculinity. Narrated by our seemingly reckless, yet hyper-observant narrator, these vignettes build with tension and trepidation, until we, like the members of this reluctant, fractured family, realize the weight, burden and comfort that only comes from finally belonging.”
—Aimee Phan, author of The Reeducation of Cherry Truong
MATTHEW SALESSES is the author of I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying (Civil Coping Mechanisms), The Last Repatriate (Nouvella), and two chapbooks, Our Island of Epidemics (PANK) and We Will Take What We Can Get (Publishing Genius). His shorter fiction can be found in Glimmer Train, Witness, American Short Fiction, West Branch, and others; nonfiction in The New York Times, The Rumpus, Hyphen, Koream. He is also an editor and columnist for the Good Men Project.