Make Some Wretched Fool to Pay: Stories by Christopher Lowe

     In the South, the relationship between the game of football, the fans, and the players is unlike that of any other region in the country. For many up-and-coming football stars, the road to success is long, grating, and filled with more interpersonal conflict than any outsider could imagine. This is the premise of Christopher Lowe’s short story collection Make Some Wretched Fool to Pay; each story focuses on the grief of loss and the power imbalances between children and their guardians, whether they be parents, coaches, or boosters.

     Within the fifteen stories that Make Some Wretched Fool to Pay comprises, readers are immersed in a gritty, dreary American Deep South setting, many of them taking place in southern Louisiana. We see the perspective of high school football stars (“Five Star”), daughters of coaches (“Robards + Redbarn”), and sons of violent fathers (the collection’s title story). In many of the stories, characters have to deal with bereavement and the aching grief left behind by the memories of their parents or idols. In others, the point of view is from those who cause the grief. It’s a harsh, cruel world that Lowe explores, and his writing style only emphasizes the tension and angst embedded within the words on the page.

     Michael Knight, author of Eveningland and At Briarwood School for Girls, praises Lowe’s work: “Along comes a writer like Christopher Lowe to remind us that everything we do leaves a mark and that football is more than just a game, especially in the South. There is violence in these pages, love and loss in equal measure, children bearing the legacies of strong women and broken men. Every word of this collection, every single word of it, rings true.” 



An excerpt from the short story Absence, included in Make Some Wretched Fool to Pay by Christopher Lowe:

         Laurie keeps crickets. She finds them in the backyard, nestled amid the weeds and leaves, and she puts them in small boxes originally intended for her dollhouse fixtures. She pokes breathing holes in the tops with a small screwdriver and pads them with cotton face wipes and lines them on her windowsill. She slides blades of grass through the openings daily. At night, she can hear the rustle and thrum, which comforts her. 
       Rachel drinks gin and tonics with a slice of cucumber. She tells anyone who will listen that cucumber is better than lime, that it brings out the gin’s floral scent rather than masking it. In the evening, she sits out on the back porch surveying the empty yard. She likes to inhale just before sipping the G&T, to get a sharp noseful of the bitter gin before letting it slip cold between her lips. 
    Dave cuts deals. His store manager tells him to stop, but he insists. If LSU wins the championship, he says in television spots, circulars, mailers, newspaper ads, your mattress purchase is free. The people who buy mattresses call him “Junction Dave,” though no one else in his life does. Junction Dave’s Mattress City. He says it sometimes in his office in back, his voice low, muttering the words, feeling the curve of them, understanding their contours in a way he cannot understand other things, no matter how he tries.
A collection a decade in the making, be sure to check out Make Some Wretched Fool to Pay by Christopher Lowe on


About the Author

Christopher Lowe was born in Mississippi, spent many years in Louisiana, and now lives in Illinois. He is also the author of Those Like Us: Stories and three prose chapbooks, including A Guest of the Program, winner of the Iron Horse Literary Review Chapbook Competition. His writing has appeared widely in magazines and journals including Brevity, Quarterly West, Third Coast, Booth, and Bellevue Literary Review.

1 comment

  • I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the stories. You have a knack for describing things down here as they really are.

    Frank Thomas

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