The Man Who Shot Out My Eye is Dead is an invigorating debut story collection. Chanelle Benz writes with beauty and formal invention about an ever-expanding set of time periods and subjects, taking innumerable risks along the way. What makes it stand out, however, is the way Benz always keeps one eye looking towards whatever hurts the most ... All good story collections coalesce into something greater than the sum of their parts, but The Man Who Shot Out My Eye is Dead does so more than most. Benz has a deep understanding of the way people are marginalized by their gender, race, class, and other identities, and she finds a way to evoke that in every story. This creates a great deal of tension throughout the entire length of the book ... The Man Who Shout Out My Eye is Dead is a wonderful achievement of a book. To speak of her potential?—?which seems limitless?—?seems to do a disservice to the great work she has already done. She is going to be a writer to watch for years. The stories in this collection are vital, and it’s only the beginning.
Whether a newly initiated outlaw on a wild Texas plain or a 16th-century English monk being thrown out of a monastery, the characters of Chanelle Benz's short stories reel you in, taking you to other times and places. It's a gripping trip. In her debut collection, The Man Who Shot Out My Eye is Dead, it's striking how she can create a world so sharply aligned with a specific place without too much cumbersome exposition. Instead, her first-person narrators require readers to have an up-close and personal encounter with their emotional states; you won't have any problems turning the page, and, in fact, you might wish that each story was the beginning of a novel. Not a bad place to start a career in writing fiction.
A good title can make a book, and Houston author Chanelle Benz's debut collection of short stories, The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead, succeeds in part on the bravado of its gritty title ... To some extent it seems a book-length recapitulation of William Faulkner's famous quote, 'The past is never dead. It's not even past.' One can easily argue the accuracy of that claim, but it's more a statement of cultural faith than reality, and Benz pulls the reader into this vortex of past/present with brutal skill and grace ... That eclectic mixture of language and historical era defines Benz's curious fiction, and The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead is an ambitious debut.