Books & Writing


Pretty Much True....

.Tsetsi, who writes with the power of an old soul, turns a discerning eye on the human condition and leaves us with great sympathy for her characters and ourselves while also providing us the unsettling knowledge that we are all to blame for what we allow to happen in both love and war. Americans are getting a finer sense of who we are at an important time in our history because of the quality of literature from female writers with voices beautifully calibrated to sing out our zeitgeist. And this debut novel by the grandly talented Kristen Tsetsi delivers the best kind of fiction—a story suffused with a brightness that shines truer than the truth.”—James C. Moore, co-author of Adios, MoFo and NYT bestseller Bush’s Brain


What I didn’t expect when I started reading this was that I’d be so riveted. I also didn’t expect to find as much humor in it as I did – or as much truth, whether the scene involved an unwanted flirtation, a moment of watching the news, or what it’s like to be involved in a conversation with a group of people – civilians who know nobody in the military – discussing the war. – Reader Review (See more at



Pretty Much True is a story of waiting. Of living in that place called “limbo,” and of coming to understand how little control we truly have. It is a story of love, jealousy, unlikely friendships, and the effects of fearing the ultimate loss. A cast of characters drawn together by war and by circumstance–a cab driver, a Vietnam veteran, a martyr mother in-law figure, a hippie downstairs neighbor, and the modern-day media as its own antagonizing character–deliver a unique and realistic perspective of America as it was in the early days of the Iraq war and of the torment of waiting for a soldier to survive it.

“If novels were people, Pretty Much True… would be the love child of The Bell Jar and The Things They Carried.” UnfunnyMe‘s TMarie

“Tsetsi’s book does what the best books do–it hurls you into a world you may only think you know or understand, and makes it living, breathing and absolutely engrossing.”–Caroline Leavitt, NYT bestselling author of Pictures of You

“From her book to her incredible blog Kristen Tsetsi has the amazing ability to get painstakingly ‘real.’ Her words tell the tough, honest, reality of the wars that take place on the homefront as our military serves abroad.”–Tara Crooks, CoFounder of the Army Wife Network & CoAuthor of 1001 Things to Love About Military Life

After her husband’s 2003 deployment to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division, Kristen realized there was a side of war that wasn’t being adequately explored in literature or film, one no one but those with loved ones overseas could comprehend. Buried far beneath the yellow ribbons and stoic smiles is a unique, intense, and very raw war experience that has long been neglected, sensationalized, and misrepresented, reduced to televised tearful homecomings or news bites following a soldier’s loss.

“What I love about this story is that there’s nothing the least bit sentimental or saintly about Mia, the narrator. It’s a fascinating study of how the casualties of war extend far beyond the battlefield that is also incredibly funny in places. Great book.” –Russell Rowland, author of In Open Spaces and High and Inside

“A powerful novel with wonderful echoes of Viet Nam and our country’s tortured response to that war.”—Paul Griner, author of The German Woman

Pretty Much True reveals the monsters of a separation complicated by fear of death and explores the forces at work that bring people together or tear them apart, making you question everything you ever thought you knew about taking sides, or about right and wrong in love and war.

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“In a style reminiscent of Kurt Vonnegut’s surreal narratives, Pretty Much True… is a story revelatory of a side of war that often is overlooked. The trauma of battle can be felt far, far from the battlefield. If the oft-repeated claim that soldiers never feel so alive as they do in battle is true, then Pretty Much True… shows that the ones they leave behind never feel so dead to the world as they do waiting for their loved ones.” - Lee Giguere, the Journal Inquirer

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“I got so caught up in this story I forgot myself. Kristen J. Tsetsi’s writing is hypnotic. Her characters sing off the page. They pulled me out of the present and dropped me into the driver’s seat of Mia’s cab. Unforgettable. Pretty Much True… will stay with me for a long time…I am breathless still.”–Kathleen M. Rodgers, author of The Final Salute

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“There are few stories written from the point of view of a loved one back home waiting, and waiting some more, not knowing if or how the soldier will return home. Perhaps that’s because so few have found an interesting way to write such a story, but that has changed, thanks to Kristen Tsetsi.” – Carol Hoenig, the Huffington Post

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“Tsetsi reveals herself to be the rare sort of writer who can satisfy both emotionally and intellectually. Pretty Much True… is reminiscent of many works by Don DeLillo—most notably Players, Running Dog, and, for its emotional density, The Body Artist. All told, Pretty Much True… is a moving novel whose emotional and intellectual complexity demands much of the reader but offers much more in return.”Small Press Reviews

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“One of the most powerful and brilliant books I have read in a long time. Make this the next book you read.”Pop Culture Zoo

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Kristen J. Tsetsi tells a war story unlike anything readers have experienced.” – Molly Callahan, Journal Inquirer

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“Tsetsi is very observant with her writing, and these little touches go a long way into creating the scenarios.” – Dan Wickett, Emerging Writers Network

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“I have no doubt that each of the stories in Carol’s Aquarium is drawn from a moment in time from the life of Kristen Tsetsi, whether they are shockingly true or re-purposed for a fictional event. But what sets Tsetsi apart from most writers is her ability to present such raw, emotional moments in a way that allows you to frame it and personalize it in regards to your own life and experiences.” – Pop Culture Zoo

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“This is the sort of narrative voice I like in short fiction. The themes are very pointed, and the writing is confident enough to deliver the emotional payload like a blow to the chest with a knife-blade. I encourage everyone who enjoys the art of short fiction and Gothic themes to download and read this book. There is true talent here, talent fully fleshed out in these haunting vignettes. These are real people in real pain, self-inflicted or otherwise, and they hit the page with a subtle vengeance. “ – Cheryl Anne Gardner, POD People

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“The one anthology that deliberately and exclusively sets out to find the best unpublished stories by ‘emerging’ writers.”—Tobias Wolff, previous judge

“Truly, a breath of fresh air for us all, writers and readers alike.”—Raymond Carver, previous judge


Volume 12

JUDGE: Josip Novakovich

Josip Novakovich moved from Croatia to the U.S. at the age of twenty. He has published a novel, April Fool’s Day, which has since been published in ten languages, three story collections (Infidelities: Stories of War and Lust, Yolk, and Salvation and Other Disasters), and three collections of narrative essays. His work was anthologized in Best American Poetry, the Pushcart Prize collection, and O. Henry Prize Stories. Novakovich earned the Whiting Writer’s Award, a Guggenheim fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the Ingram Merrill Award, and an American Book Award, and he has been a writing fellow of the New York Public Library. He teaches creative writing at Concordia University in Montreal.

EDITORS: Kristen Tsetsi, Bruce Pratt, Bayard Godsave

“Particularly fine scene-making, evocative American cultural and cinematic talent in fiction. . . . More than a third of the stories are written by immigrants or children of recent immigrants, which reflects what America is—not only itself, but also the world with its currents and peregrinations.”—Josip Novakovich


.Volume 11 

American Fiction: Volume 11JUDGE: Clint McCown

EDITORS: Kristen J. Tsetsi, Bayard Godsave, Bruce Pratt

“No matter which story you turn to, it is guaranteed to provoke strong emotions within. Currently in it’s 11th edition, these stories are proof that there is no shortage of talented American writers. – From an Reader Review

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“On the whole, American Fiction succeeds in capturing the grieving and healing processes and the varying degrees in which they take place. It brings its readers through some of the darkest places and guides them to a greater understanding. Its greatest achievement can be summed up by a quote from “My Yard;” “Acceptance of life’s end does not mean your heart will not be broken in two when you fade” (120). Above all, American Fiction depicts the solemn acceptance of fate and duty with the heart-wrenching reality that things will never be the same. – From a Goodreads Reader Review


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