Book by Caleb Sarvis

Dead Aquarium


(i don’t have the stamina for that kind of faith)

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Savannah sleeps on the roof of her house. Kevin obsesses over Calvin and Hobbes, its relationship with his father. Patrons of a trampoline park break limbs at an alarming rate. A man shears a sheep in a suburban driveway. In “Emerson”, Xavier is followed by a tiny T-rex as he searches for his brother Charlie, whom he hasn’t seen in six years. Dead Aquarium or (i don’t have the stamina for that kind of faith) is a collection of twelve stories and a novella, all of which trace the looney of the everyday. The real and the imagined are weighed against each other. The dead, the displaced, and Florida’s apocalyptic landscape make repeated cameos throughout Dead Aquarium, working to build common ground between the mundane and the sublime.

Cool Blurbs for Caleb’s Book Dead Aquarium

“These stories are full of people living in the in-between spaces, downtrodden people at their lowest points who are still trying to do their best. They are all enduring some personal crisis and grasping for some kind of connection. Though the stories are melancholy, they are also funny and hopeful, and you can’t help but root for these damaged characters to put it all together, or at least put something together. In Dead Aquarium, Caleb Michael Sarvis has written a collection that is thoughtful, inventive, smart, and a little bit weird, in the best possible way.”

Tom McAllister, author of How To Be Safe

“Nimble, eccentric, simply astonishing. Caleb Michael Sarvis writes his characters not with the ‘scathing affection’ they sometimes show each other, but with curiosity, insight, and raw, funky love. In these stories, people are missing, sought, hurt, maimed, found. but all of them, like the founder of Sarvis’ fictional town Emerson in the novella of the same name, are trying hard ‘not to let absurdity get them down.’ Sarvis’ storytelling is surreal, adventurous, and flat-out smart – Dead Aquarium is a postmodern Saunders-esque journey into the minds and souls of wounded, resilient characters I won’t soon forget.”

Laura Lee Smith, author of The Ice House and Heart of Palm

“Caleb Michael Sarvis’ kaleidoscopic vision is just what we need in these topsy-turvy times. His collection, Dead Aquarium, bursts unbridled onto the scene. The warped Florida landscape serves as a backdrop for the zany-but-lovable inhabitants (including a mini T-Rex) who populate these stories. There’s aching here and a yearning desire to make a meaningful human connection. Many of the characters suffer from an all-too-familiar ‘flu of the heart.’ Lucky for them (and for us) Mr. Sarvis knows the cure. Dead Aquarium serves as an antidote to the bleak, ordinary, humdrum days.

Jason Ockert, author of Neighbors of Nothing and Shadowselves

“The stories in this collection are surprising, heartbreaking, and wildly illuminating. They glow and mesmerize. Caleb Michael Sarvis writes with precision and deft humor, peeling back layers of artifice to get at the heart of what makes relationships tick. This book is a conversation you don’t want to leave. It’s a party you never want to end. It’s an unflinching look at love and loss, but most of all, Sarvis’ work is beautifully, sublimely human.”

Kristen Arnett, author of Mostly Dead Things and With Teeth

“A smart and beautifully crafted collection of stories. The characters in Dead Aquarium are lonely and longing for the human connection they narrowly miss — yet always teetering on the edge of hope. Sarvis mixes bleakness and optimism, realism and distorted reality, edginess and tenderness to bring us a world that reflects our own lived existence, in all its strange glory.”

Sarah Domet, author of The Guineveres

“The characters in these wonderfully understated but affecting stories are like suburban orchids evolving right in front of us — they reach out for what they think they need, shoot off in strange directions, feed their obsessions in ways even they don’t understand, try and fail to connect. Which is to say, they act like real people. With this collection, Caleb Michael Sarvis establishes himself as a young writer to watch.”

Dave Housley, author of Massive Cleansing Fire and This Darkness Got to Give

“Sarvis’ writing gives one the feeling of walking uninvited through a silent, post-apocalyptic suburban neighborhood. Alienation, disaffection, and broken homes dot the landscape of this strange and Floridian set of stories from Caleb Michael Sarvis.”

Elle Nash, author of Animals Eat Each Other and Gag Reflex