Portfolio Type: Books


Named a ‘best book of 2017‘ in The Guardian.

Winner, 2016 Balcones Fiction Prize

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“‘Short story’ and ‘thriller’ tend to be incompatible genres, but not in the hands of Tara Laskowski. BYSTANDERS is a bold, riveting mash-up of Hitchcockian suspense and campfire-tale chills.”
Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD
“Her stories pulsed with energy and excitement, like small lightning storms on the page. I was constantly surprised by her characters, and finished the book wishing there were more. I think she is a real talent–original and vibrant–and I’m excited to celebrate her work.”
— Amanda Eyre Ward, novelist and Balcones Fiction Prize judge
“Laskowski’s fine workings of tales that go creepy in the night make her a writer to watch.”
Kirkus Reviews
“…several pieces would be right at home in the old TV series ‘The Twilight Zone’ … Laskowski’s stories start out with circumstances that could befall anyone, you or me, but watch out for what happens next.”
New Pages
“No matter how surreal or commonplace, the insertions Laskowski makes in her plots teach us that witnesses won’t be spared: life forces them to participate.”
Washington Independent Review of Books

Legacies of violence and tragedy haunt these thirteen stunning stories from Tara Laskowski, author of Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons. A woman who becomes obsessed with her co-worker’s murderer; an investigative reporter with a nose for scandal finds his own life suddenly unraveling; eerie sights in a video baby monitor spook a new mother. When the unexpected happens, these bystanders—who are not always innocent—come face to face with their own choices and fates. Bound together by danger, fear, paranoia, and the bumps we all hear in the night, these potent stories illuminate the darker side of the human condition. From a vicious newspaper strike that rocks a small Pennsylvania community to an unpredictable road trip in the vast desert of the American West, BYSTANDERS explores the ways in which terror and uncertainty both consume and invigorate us—and yet reveal our strengths, hopes, and passions. Santa Fe Writers Project

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Modern Manners For Your Inner Demons

Santa Fe Writers Project

February 2017

The best-selling indie hit returns! This revised, expanded edition of Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons brings the darker side of social behavior back to the shelves. Tara Laskowski’s demonically clever stories break the rules of a “decent” society, providing a definitive guide on the etiquette of obesity, dementia, infertility, homicide, arson, and more. Blending humor with a sharp social commentary, Laskowski introduces us to cynical yet sympathetic characters as each story unfolds. Snarky but optimistic, these characters are the folks you want sitting next to you at your next dinner party…or in your prison cell.

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Praise and reviews for Modern Manners:

“Even though she’s writing about arson, murder, obesity, infertility, etc., Laskowski maintains a warm core amongst her humor. She isn’t afraid to share some pain, rather than masking her feelings in jokes, and that depth makes this collection deeply satisfying to read.” ~CL Bledsoe, Prick of the Spindle

“The anxiety-ridden instructees of Laskowski’s stories tap dance their way through various awkward situations ranging from adultery to dementia. It’s fun to laugh at them, but by the end of each story, you can’t quite remember why you thought they were so dumb in the first place; these characters have problems and deal with their problems with dignity. Each of these stories start out in a sarcastic vein, yet the problems they address are heartbreaking, and each and every one of them realizes a protagonist, fully formed, with a past, a  present, and a future.” ~LW Compton, The Collagist

“Sly, clever, original take on the sad, bewildering, dead-on truths of being human.” ~Kathy Fish, author of Wild Life and Together We Can Bury It

“A zippy, provocative collection–just as wicked as the cover art suggests.” ~Laura Ellen Scott, author of Death Wishing

“Highly inventive, but underneath, highly empathetic. Laskowski knows the human heart. For behind the devilish humor is raw emotion, even in such unsympathetic narrators as a pyromaniac.” ~Tara L. Masih, author of Where the Dog Star Never Glows