Any Deadly Thing


“So far he’s never been bit, but there was once, deer hunt, climbing a bluff and he’d slipped, rolled down a shale slide into some kind of grotto and the whole place started buzzing. Big rattlesnake nest, twenty or so, all small but they’ll kill you just the same and he’d scrambled and cranked round after round through the bolt, felt a hot white pain in his leg, dropped the gun and jumped. Once he was out of it he pulled down his pants, found the bite but it wasn’t a bite, just the one hole and too big, something lodged under the skin. He cut at it for a time. Piece of copper jacket from one of his own bullets, turned out. Stood there, sun in his eyes, blood on his hands, pants full of blood and bunched at his ankles, happy as he’d been in a while.”


“Roy Kesey's stories in Any Deadly Thing are perfect, masterful portraits of an international cross-section of wise, broken souls—hopeful, brutal, funny as hell, and heart-crushing, every last one.”
Elizabeth Crane, author of We Only Know So Much and All This Heavenly Glory
“Roy Kesey is one of my favorite contemporary writers, and Any Deadly Thing is another triumph. These stories, reminiscent of William Gass in the remarkable way they combine a virtuoso playfulness and wit with an atmosphere of grimness and grief and heartbreak, range the world over for their brilliantly realized locales, but they share a deeper setting in what Gass calls “the only holiness we have,” human consciousness. Kesey demonstrates once again that he is a spectacularly deft and empathetic priest of that creed, which is the only one for me.”
Michael Griffith, author of Trophy and Bibliophilia


“Kesey’s writing is elegant and detailed in Any Deadly Thing, anchoring story lines that are at times surreal. (…) He knows the mood he’s setting, knows how to guide the reader through these stories and knows just when to step away when they are over.”
—Steve Newman, TimeOut Chicago
“(E)very one of the characters is someone the reader can latch on to. Their choices are terrible, but they make sense. It's not something you would do (you hope), but it's something you can't look away from, like the tastiest, pathos-iest train wreck you've ever seen.”
—Mike Tager, Jmww Journal
"Most short-story writers are like baseball pitchers. The really good ones have four or five different pitches, but most only have two or three that they've perfected and go to over and over again. Kesey is more like a five-tool outfielder: He can do it all. In Any Deadly Thing, he collects stories about lovable losers, tales of hardscrabble redemption, experimental fiction, Bosnian war stories and expat tales set in Beijing apartments and Peruvian jungles. There's no limit to the man's imagination."
—Jim Ruland, San Diego City Beat
"With his engaging narrative voice and well-paced prose, Kesey dramatizes moments of extremity through characters who struggle to reconcile their burden of guilt and the impulse to do something that helps. (...) This pattern of revelation during debasement is part of the glorious nature of Kesey's misfits in misery in Any Deadly Thing. Wrong about so much in their lives, their moments of clarity, companionship, and agency stand out all the brighter amid the dirt and doubt."
—Jason Marc Harris, Mid-American Review