New Standards: The First Decade of Fiction at Fourteen Hills

New Standards: The First Decade of Fiction at Fourteen Hills
Purchase the anthology at Small Press Distribution for $15.00

"It’s always the same. Say hello to television. Say hello to advertising. Say hello to the suburbs. Say hello to the three-piece suit. Say hello to the adjustable thirty-year mortgage. Say hello to Frank Sinatra, to the U.S. Army , to Jesus Christ Your Personal Savior—but whatever you do don’t say hello to this, this alien thing—this existence that to us marks the unattainablility of the gullible entity writhing inside the family unit, the one we knew so well, that zero, that nothing, that organism trying to find sustenance—this alien thing that helps you achieve the unattainability of the departed."

So writes Christopher Sorrentino in “Julie Halo,” one of the twenty featured writers and stories in New Standards: The First Decade of Fiction at Fourteen Hills, the first anthology from our international literary magazine. The anthology, published by Fourteen Hills Press in 2005, tackles themes of suburbia, family, and misguided love, while skirting the edge of this so-called gullible “unattainability.” The compilation features many of our most celebrated contributors, including: novelist Pam Houston; Stephen Elliot, whose recent memoir The Adderall Diaries has received a flurry of critical acclaim; San Francisco State University professors Peter Orner (The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo), Robert Gluck (Denny Smith), and Nona Caspers (Heavier Than Air); as well as narrative writers Lawrence Braithwaite (Wigger) and Joanna Howard (Frights of Fancy).

Just what kinds of “new standards” does Fourteen Hills Press offer? We’ve got everything from American expatriates fighting off cockroaches and Communists in Bulgaria, to a young lover trying to edge his way out of his mistress’ complicated love life, to a lost girl awakening from amnesia, only to find that her hometown is filled with conflicting street signs, and even teenage twins navigating that intricate space between emotional and familial love. Regardless what issue the stories were originally published in, where the stories are set, or what unique style they inhabit, they all share a common thread: they challenge us to reexamine ourselves and our culture.

Sometimes these reexaminations come in the form of deconstructing one’s life to reveal the nasty surprises lurking just beneath the surface. Nicholas Montemarano’s narrator notices this while confronting his family members at the end of their lives, in “Pretend”:

“The point you wanted to make about life—as I see it now—was that regardless of what a nice lily-hearted person might be, there will always be someone out there ready to pounce, and that the same things that may get you into heaven will certainly get you a swift kick in the ass in this world.” (p. 324)

Fourteen Hills readers should not be scared off by the intensity of these excerpts. The stories featured in our New Standards anthology also depict the other half of life’s complexity; love, connection, and the promise of something real.

Want more?
New Standards: The First Decade of Fiction at Fourteen Hills
Purchase the anthology at Small Press Distribution for $15.00


If we haven’t yet sold you on the New Standards anthology, stay tuned for our March 25th event, an evening that features some of the fabulous Fourteen Hills contributors, all of them acclaimed writers in their own right.

The details so far:

Fourteen Hills Celebrates the New Standards Anthology: A Fundraiser
Join the Fourteen Hills Staff along with Nona Caspers, Peter Orner, and other guest readers (TBA) for a reading of and discussion about fiction.
Admission fee of $10 includes a copy of the anthology ($15 value)
Thursday March 25th, 7:00pm
The Poetry Center
Humanities Bldg, Room 512
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132
RSVP on Facebook

See you there. Stay tuned on the blog when we'll be asking our readers to post questions for us to ask the authors on the panel!

- Julia Jackson, Fourteen Hills staff


  1. Great Nicholas Montemarano quote. These stories work so well by embedding such "life lesson" or philosophical musings deep into the characters and narrative. You're not really looking when they hit you.

  2. When I decided I wanted to go to SFSU, it was mainly because of one or two writers on staff. I've had very little exposure to a lot of the professors' work, so this seems like a great opportunity to get that exposure and hear them discuss the craft. Very excited for Peter, who I've had the pleasure of knowing, and Nona, who I've never met before!

  3. I used this anthology in two of my undergrad fiction classes and still use some of the stories in my private workshop. never has a collection done so well to keep the interest of the student writers and provide the meat for such provocative and interesting conversations!

  4. I loved reading Peter Orner and Nona Caspers' fiction as SFSU faculty. I've met them before, and it's wonderful to see their craft fully realized on the page. They're brilliant stories, and are unquestionably breaking down boundaries and establishing new standards in the literary world.

  5. With so many voices and styles, this anthology is a wonderful distillation of Fourteen Hills' fiction and a great way to get to know the magazine. It's refreshing to see such various work in one collection, no dogma at work here.

  6. I like the fact that Fourteen Hills doesn't align itself to a particular genre/movement/style, which is demonstrated in the wide range of stories in the anthology. My personal favorite in the anthology was Peter Orner's story, "From Collected Stories of Edmund Jerry(E.J) Hahn, Vol.4". It shows Peter Orner's exemplary knack for vignettes and humor (which is showcased amply in his novel "The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo").

  7. This anthology is truly a pleasure. With so much variety there really is something for all tastes. The pieces all display top notch writing and a commitment to honesty.