"My favorite . . . is J.C. Hallman's hilarious fiction debut, 'The Hospital for Bad Poets.' In the eponymous title story a pair of unusual EMT attendants arrive in response to a call to find a poet supine on the floor. . . . Given the seriousness of the poet's problem, however, the treatment is obvious: The patient is required to read 'The Duino Elegies,' by Rainer Maria Rilke. Those who've perused this volume by the German poet will understand the joke, but the stories in this collection are inevitably weird and wonderful. Hallman has a deft touch in an increasingly heavy-handed world. 'The Hospital for Bad Poets' deserves a large and enthusiastic readership." David Milofsky, Denver Post
"There’s something decidedly old-fashioned about Hallman’s stories. At times, he’s formally inventive, but the way he wrestles directly with ideas reminds us of authors like Kafka or Gogol. In 'Ethan: A Love Story,' the narrator visits the gated community where his parents now live. . . . Sexual, familial and international politics all naturally come to a head in one of the best video-game action sequences to appear in fiction. With stories titled 'Autopoiesis for the Common Man,' 'Epiphenomenon,' and 'The History of Riddles,' Hallman is clearly working in brainy territory. But even when he’s more interested in the concepts than the people, he’s having enough fun for all of us. 'Double Entendre' is the best example, in which a racy short story is interrupted mid-paragraph by a scholar of erotic fiction." Jonathan Messinger, Time Out Chicago
"Hallman's cast of characters in 'The Hospital for Bad Poets' includes the Average Man, who has a surreal experience at the dentist's office, an uncle and child who have an unsettling relationship, a woman (or a supernatural something) who makes love in a hedge and residents of a new suburban community that is literally being torn apart by unseen forces. Hallman's title story is a hilarious, first-person account of exactly what it saysa man is rushed off to a hospital for bad poets." Mary Ann Grossmann, St. Paul Pioneer Press
"Terrific . . . This is one incredible book." Gently Read Literature.com
“Hallman’s clever debut collection invites the reader into ordinary homes and heads before dropping sly twists of the surreal to examine contemporary culture. His collection is smart and hip, a safer Sam Lipsyte crossed with early George Saunders.”
“From the black absurdist mayhem of ‘Autopoiesis’ to the lovely classical prose of ‘Savages,’ Chris Hallman nails our uneasy merging of fact and fantasy, our ritual longings in a dispirited age. These are beautiful moral tales, dark and inventive like Hawthorne, funny and dreamy like the best of Cheever. The Hospital for Bad Poets is great news for tired times.”
Charles D’Ambrosio, author of The Dead Fish Museum
“In a nutshell, the amazing stories in J.C. Hallman’s collection The Hospital for Bad Poets are not unlike pop parables for our times, or magical puzzles, and they are witty, intelligent, inventive, satirical, farcical, and finally full of a profound seriousness of purpose, not to mention as funny as a barrel full of philosophers. Imagine Woody Allen trick-or-treating in a Kafka (or maybe Nietzsche) mask, going story-to-story pretending to be Average Man merely disguised as a secret solipsist, as he attempts to unriddle the absurdity of ordinary Halloweened life for a laugh.”
Chuck Kinder, author of Honeymooners
"A hard-eyed look at the mess we humans have made of our earthly home, J.C. Hallman's stories also trace with rare delicacy the tentative approaches each alienated soul makes toward another. The writing throughout is polished, witty, and fiery."
Jean McGarry, author of A Bad and Stupid Girl
"Hallman's understanding of the depth of human suffering equals his fiendish wit: The Hospital for Bad Poets marks an inventive debut into the world of the allusive."
Edie Meidav, author of Crawl Space
“These shrewd, oblique stories run the gamut from the romance of microbiology to illicit trysts in hedgerows. Along the way, Hallman skewers modern life with the toolkit left behind by Donald Barthelme, Shirley Jackson, and a monkey wrench borrowed from Rod Serling. At bottom, The Hospital for Bad Poets is filled with mysteries and delights.”
Brent Spencer, author of Are We Not Men?
“What I like most about Hallman is his surreal depiction of American life and love. Somehow he's able to find the strangeness in the familiar and the familiar in the strange. The result is a compelling collection rich with insights and ironies. This is fiction at its weirdest and most wonderful.”
Jonis Agee, author of The River Wife
“The most arresting book of short fiction of the year was J.C. Hallman's The Hospital for Bad Poets, which is both hilarious and thought-provoking in its examination of the lot of the common man in contemporary America and beyond.”