Of course some said it was the government, what was left of it, or aliens or Halliburton or Hollywood, but those culprits had been blamed for everything that had happened already and what good did blame do anyway, at this point? If the fires were coming, they were coming.

A combat photographer transitions to suburban life. An overcrowded clown car picks up too much speed. A Sara Lane Luxury Cruise takes a vindictive turn. In this series of linked stories, each one ends in fire. Woven between them are descriptions of life after a fiery apocalyptic event, something close to the end of the world.

Advance praise

"It's time to admit what everyone knows: there's no bolder, no wittier critic of our modern, polarizing American culture than Dave Housley, who points out the absurdities in our relationships while reminding us why we must hold on to each other."
- Susan Muaddi Darraj, author of A Curious Land

"Dave Housley has always been unparalleled in his ability to mock and embrace American pop culture in his fiction, and in his latest collection of linked stories, each ending in fire or the aftermath of an apocalyptic event, he raises the stakes, making us wonder what is scarier: the end of the world as we know it or the absurdity of the world as it is. With alternating wit and empathy, he has a deft touch in unearthing our shortcomings and also commiserating with us about them. Dave Housley is our Howard Zinn for the end times."
- Jen Michalski, author of The Summer She Was Under Water and The Tide King

"Who says compassion can’t co-exist with playfulness? Dave Housley strikes a match with these short stories that flicker between love and anxiety, life and death."
- Leslie Pietrzyk, author of This Angel On My Chest

"There are few writers who draw as nimbly, nor with as much heart, from pop culture as well as Dave Housley. His work is distinctly contemporary yet timeless. It can be cruelly accurate in its portraits, but at the same time I can't think of a writer more compassionate in his stories. Massive, Cleansing Fire is that rare book that does the near impossible. It is hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure. Reading it is like being held fast to the ground by a heavy man in a gorilla suit who is whispering the saddest love story you ever heard into your ears and tickling you so hard you laugh until tears come to your eyes."
- Jensen Beach, author of Swallowed By The Cold

"Once again, Dave Housley has shaped a singular collection to dazzle and delight, this time with a tool as old as civilization itself: fire. In eight stunning stories and an equal number of interstitial vignettes, Housley wields spark and flame and smoke as plot device, metaphor and theme, while balancing his uproarious comic sense with an unerring glimpse into the human heart. Reader, Massive Cleansing Fire doesn’t care that the roof is aflame. It lets that motherfucker burn."
- Tom Williams, author of Don't Start Me Talkin' and Among the Wild Mulattos and Other Tales

"America is in a deep state of moral filth, and Housley's brilliant Massive, Cleansing Fire comes at the perfect time to wash us off with heat. If you don't love this book, you're the problem."
- Brian Allen Carr, author of The Shape of Every Monster Yet To Come

"This book has all of the comedy, formal playfulness, and self-deprecating wisdom that I've come to expect from Dave Housley's stories, but it also has a lot of registers I hadn't noticed in his work before — moody atmosphere, a sense of creeping dread, page-turner suspense — all wrapped up in a collection as intricately plotted as a thriller. Massive Cleansing Fire burns bright, quick, and dangerously hot."
- Christian TeBordo, author of Toughlahoma

"With Massive Cleansing Fire Dave Housley delivers both the humorous pop culture deconstructions and the despairingly nuanced domestic scenes we've come to expect from him. And yet, it is Housley's ability to keep doing these things in new and surprising ways that is becoming his hallmark. Housley is a craftsman, he is unstinting and he continues to raise the bar for all of us who would consider ourselves his peers."
- Ben Tanzer, author of The New York Stories: Three Volumes in One Collection

"In the mood to get your heart broken in a clown car? Look no further—you've found your book. Ditto if pirate temps are your thing--and of course they are. Most importantly, if the world must end in fire—and apparently it must—there's no one I'd rather have walking me through the details than Dave Housley."
- Roy Kesey, author of Any Deadly Thing

"Dave Housley writes the in-betweens like nobody else. In between hilarity and horror; in between living and dying; in between being a hero and being a weakling and just being a plain old idiot of a person. The in-betweens are the stuff that gives fiction life, and Housley is a pro at finding those small spaces and writing the hell out of them. And it doesn't hurt that he makes you laugh - and laugh hard - while doing it."
- Amber Sparks, author of The Unfinished World


"This is work-place-shooting-khaki-pants-dress-shirt-tucked-into-belt-America, full of pop-culture, brand-names, suburban angst—a land somewhere between Raymond Carver and George Saunders with a splash of Rod Serling. Imagine Cormack McCarthy’s The Road meets Robert Altman’s Short Cuts with a cast of circus clowns, a war photographer, cowboy singers on cruise ships, and an alcoholic pirate that works as a legal office temp. Massive Cleansing Fire is a master lesson in jump-cuts and juxtaposition. Housley’s prose and imagination are admirable. - DM O'Connor at New Pages

"Dave Housley's collection is like a cross between Cormac McCarthy and Lydia Davis. (Yes, that is a sentence you just read.) Mixing the flash fiction form and occasional analytical narrative distance of Davis, with the scorched-earth lyricism of McCarthy, while using the narrative frame of always encroaching flames, Housley's stories create a new and piercing perspective on our current slow-motion apocalypse. I mean, one of the longer stories is called “Seven Clowns Before the Explosion,” for fuck's sake. That alone is worth the price of admission. - Josh Cook at Porter Square Books/In Order of Importance

"Dave Housley’s latest story collection, Massive, Cleansing Fire, is full of gloriously witty moments and uniquely fascinating characters and situations. Made up of individual stories, each one ending in a fire or focused on accounts of those caught up in a wildfire apocalyptic event, this is a creative, provocative, and refreshingly different sort of book..." - Nicholas Litchfield at Colorado Review

"Housley, noted for his astute observations of popular culture, continues to demonstrate a perceptive viewpoint of contemporary customs with Massive Cleansing Fire. Readers can only hope that the endings predicted by these stories don’t happen anytime soon. ..." - Brian Seemann at Necesary Fiction

Dave Housley is a founding editor of Barrelhouse Magazine and a co-founder and organizer of the Conversations and Connections writers’ conference. He is the author of three previous short fiction collections, including Commercial Fiction (Outpost19) and If I Knew The Way, I Would Take You Home (Dzanc). His work has appeared in Hobart, Mid-American Review, Nerve, and elsewhere.

Massive, Cleansing Fire
Dave Housley
122 pages
$14.00 paperback ISBN 9781944853143
$9.99 ebook

February 2017

He is driving, like always, curling the little car in ever-tightening spirals, pushing it, feeling the centrifugal force and allowing the audience to blur in his vision. . .

copyright 2016 OP19 Books LLC