Carnegie Mellon University
February 23, 2012

"Magpies," Published By Carnegie Mellon University Press, Wins Gold Medal At Florida Book Awards

Magpies," a collection of short stories by Lynne Barrett published by Carnegie Mellon University Press, has won the gold medal for general fiction in the sixth annual Florida Book Awards. The awards are designed to spotlight Florida's best books and their authors in seven categories: children's literature, Florida nonfiction, general fiction, poetry, popular fiction, visual arts, young adult and Spanish language.

"In a time of broad 'experimentation' in short fiction, what is refreshing about Lynne Barrett is that her stories have honest-to-goodness plots. Reading stories which actually tell stories is a satisfying thing," said Gerald Costanzo, professor of English at CMU and founder and director of CMU Press.

Barrett's third book of short stories, "Magpies" uses different forms. Examples are "Links," which borrows the form of a website for a story of the dot com craze, and "Cave of the Winds," which uses the alphabet to follow a group of guys who build and furnish shelters over the course of one hurricane season. Barrett also draws on genres from mystery to magical realism to tell tales set against the past decade of booms and bust.  Most of the stories take place in Florida, where Barrett lives.

"I like the concentration of short forms," Barrett said.  "I like creating a world that feels as if it exists even after we leave the space of the story, and intertwining character, setting, scene and action to create a unified effect."

One story in "Magpies," "Gossip and Toad," looks at the consequences of the temptations to overreach for success during the celebrity gossip craze, while "When, He Wonders" is set during the popping of Florida's massive real estate bubble and follows what happens when a developer decides to fake his own death.

A professor of English at Florida International University, Barrett's previous two books also were published by CMU Press: "The Secret Names of Women" and "The Land of Go."  Her work has appeared in "Miami Noir," "A Dixie Christmas," "Delta Blues," "Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine," "Apalachee Review," "Saw Palm," "The Southern Womens Review," and many other anthologies and magazines. She has received the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best mystery story from the Mystery Writers of America and fellowships from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts. She also edits The Florida Book Review. 

Carnegie Mellon University Press was founded in 1972 as a publisher of poetry. The Press has since evolved into a highly regarded publisher of poetry, classic contemporaries, short fiction and regional social history. Among the press' most notable achievements is publishing poet Rita Dove's Thomas and Beulah in 1986, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize the following year. In 2009, the press released "The Paris of Appalachia: Pittsburgh in the Twenty-first Century," a book by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Brian O'Neill, which became the fastest-selling book in CMU Press history.

For a full list of the sixth annual Florida Book Award winners, visit

For more information on Lynne Barrett and "Magpies," including ordering information, visit