Kellie Wells is the author of a collection of short fiction, Compression Scars, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award, and a novel, Skin. She teaches in the Program in Creative Writing at the University of Alabama.
Okay, confession: I’m no petticoat, no girly-betty, no hothouse orchid. I’m 8’ 11½”, still a cubit or so shy of Goliath (depending on who you ask), 490 pounds, a few tubs of butter in excess of the dainty dish my mother, herself a windblown buttercup, assures me is trapped inside, beneath the impudent ballast of flesh.
Kellie Wells reads from her book "Fat Girl Terrestial" as part of the ESU creative writing program's Visiting Writers Series.
In Kingdom Come, Kansas, a town from which children once mysteriously disappeared, there lives a giant woman. This colossus, Wallis Armstrong, is not a pituitary mutant or a person battling a rare medical condition; she¹s just an improbably large woman ill at ease in a world built for shrimps.
Wallis is a miniaturizer of crime scenes, her specialty staged suicides. She constructed her first diorama as a child when a boy in her fourth-grade class went missing. Wallis’s brother, Obie, believes the only explanation for his sister’s...amplitude is that she is the incarnation of God on Earth, and he is her one true ardent disciple. Until he too disappears.
Wallis is the teller of this tale, and hers is a capacious, shape-shifting voice fit for a giant and a reluctant pretender to divinity. The story begins with the accidental murder of a man who attacks Wallis on the street, a man who turns out to be the brother of another local behemoth, Vivica Planet. Vivica, happy to overshadow the runt world that teems beneath her, is a photonegative of Wallis, and they develop a grudging, makeshift friendship, forged largely from shared stature, lost brothers, and contradictory notions of the advantages and disadvantages of looming.
The story of Wallis’s odyssey through this tight-fitting world is a churlish meditation on the existence and nature of God, but also an exploration of the treachery of childhood and the destructive nature of the most blindly abiding kind of love: that of a love-struck brother for a big sister, a disciple for an unwilling prophet, and a bone-weary god for a savage and disappointing flock.
"Fat Girl, Terrestrial is proof. Giants still walk the earth and Kellie Wells is one of that visionary breed. Wells has always stood at ease in the tall company of Flannery O¹Connor and John Kennedy Toole. But in this novel her tsunami of gorgeous lingua Americana engulfs every art form. It is music and image, soaring idea and grounded intellect, hurtling drama, spirit and flesh, and every known angle--from delicate to brutal--of comedy. Magnificent."
--Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love
“Like the wondrous giantess at its heart, this is a book whose contours manage to contain—-wickedly, soul-stirringly, in prose that makes your head spin and your heart beat faster—-an entire universe, while at the same time forcing you to confront the wages of such impossible embodiment. It’s tempting to say that in Kellie Wells the Brothers Grimm meet Raymond Chandler, but then you’d also have to include Virginia Woolf and William Blake, Julian of Norwich and maybe even Harpo Marx. Plus did I mention that Fat Girl, Terrestrial also happens to be a real page-turner?”
-—Kathryn Davis, author of The Thin Place
Kellie Wells is the author of a collection of short fiction, Compression Scars, winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award, and a novel, Skin. She received the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award and the GLCA New Writers Award for Fiction, and her novel chapter "Rabbit Catcher of Kingdom Come” was chosen by Kevin Brockmeier for inclusion in the 2010 Best American Fantasy anthology. Her second novel, Fat Girl, Terrestrial, will be published this fall by FC2. She received MFAs in poetry and fiction from the University of Montana and the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in creative writing and literature from Western Michigan University. She teaches in the Program in Creative Writing at the University of Alabama and in the low-residency MFA program at Pacific University.