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A flash of orange appeared on the other side of the big top, then climbed the wall of the tent. Ania thought it must be part of the performance, it seemed such a miraculous thing. But the crowd fell quiet, and then a thunder rumbled from all around and someone yelled, "Fire!"...

Inspired by the true story of the Hartford Circus Fire…
The Greatest Show: Stories
March 2012
LSU Press
Yellow Shoe Fiction (Michael Griffith, series editor)

"Though each story stands alone in scope and power, the larger portrait of a community bound and propelled by fate–specifically, a catastrophic circus fire–is a stellar, magical achievement. The Greatest Show is a fantastically conceived, compelling book.”
» Sabina Murray, author of Tales from the New World and The Caprices, winner of the 2002 Pen/Faulkner Award

"The Greatest Show is a tour de force, a collection of stories that achieves so much more than the sum of its parts. Each story chips away at a shared mystery, and the answers Michael Downs finds are answers for us all, for the questions we ask about how, and why, we survive. Survive and love. This book is going to live with me for a long while, and I can't recommend it highly enough.”
» Tom Franklin, author of Poachers and Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter 

"Brilliant as individual pieces, these stories when read together are a revelation. The Greatest Show is the work of a mature, compassionate, incisive writer with a talent for discovering strange surprises at the periphery of tragedy.”
» Sheri Joseph, author of Stray and Bear Me Safely Over

"As he did in his fine nonfiction, House of Good Hope, Michael Downs has penned a heartbreaking paean to an overlooked American city, using its circus fire as a starting point. Having begun his career at the Hartford Courant, the author is quickly staking his claim as this capital's William Kennedy.”
» Stewart O’Nan, author of Last Night at the Lobster and The Circus Fire: The True Story of an American Tragedy

"Michael Downs writes clean, spot-on sentences. He has an eye for the telling detail. His stories are both efficient and generous. But, most impressively, there is a Chekhovian grace about these stories. He sees so deeply into the hearts and minds of his characters, understands so thoroughly their dilemmas, that you will find yourself going back to their stories again and again.”
» Donald Hays, author of Dying Light and Other Stories and The Dixie Association

Michael Downs 2012 © All Rights Reserved. Author Photo Credit: Leslie F. Miller Photography
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