The test kitchen is quiet, Green and Jefferson huddled in the corner, no doubt working through the Cool Ranch Burrito that HQ has made the group's second priority. It will never happen, Miller knows. He himself developed the Dorito taco shell, and that was difficult enough. A full wrap, a burrito wrap, no less, is as close to impossible as this particular area of food science gets.

The company's first priority, of course, is Chef Garcia, whose name stands bold in his Outlook: CHEF LORENA GARCIA. He knows it is no mistake that she has chosen to announce herself with capital letters. . .



"With Commercial Fiction, Dave Housley once again stakes his claim as the poet laureate of pop culture. No one else could take the cynical manipulations of commercials and extract from them so much humor and empathy and heart."

- Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods


Eighteen brief stories inspired by television commercials produced by America's favorite brands.


"I can count on one hand the number of writers who do pop culture critique in fiction really well -- and Dave Housley is right up there with the best of them. These short pieces don't neatly parody the absurd commercials we see on TV -- that would be too easy, too pat. No, Housley uses these commercials instead as a springboard for his very funny, very sad explorations of our failures with our families, with our jobs, with our relationships -- with everything in our modern lives except our passive role as consumers, caught by the images fed to us by the advertising pros."

- Amber Sparks, author of May We Shed These Human Bodies


"In Commercial Fiction, Dave Housley demonstrates his gift for literary sleight of hand, first drawing us in with his satirical skewering of corporate branding, before cutting us off at the knees with his nuanced tales of desperate lives, dead-end jobs, and diminished expectations."

- Ben Tanzer, author of You Can Make Him Like You and Orphans


The stories collected here originally appeared in Hobart, under editor Aaron Burch:

"Honestly, these stories probably shouldn't work. Isn't there some kind of writing maxim that you shouldn't dislike or make fun of your characters? And these stories do just that; they do nothing if not highlight the ridiculousness of the commercials of their inspiration-- programmers bro-ing down and crunching code, the group of cool kids that just want to cater their camping party with McDonald's, a cult devoted to bottles of ginger ale pulled from the ground like radishes. But this cult, these cool kids, each and every bro. . . Dave makes fun of them the way we all make fun of our best friends, while also somehow fleshing out each of these ridiculous scenarios with sadness, with pathos and longing, with love.

"What started as a kind of joke or even a self-dare -- "I have an idea, I'm not sure if it works or not, if it's clever or totally stupid, but what if. . ." -- turned into not only some of my favorite Dave Housley writing (and I'm a self-avowed fan to begin with) but some of my favorite stories of recent memory. Oddly, they've made me appreciate commercials more, and also, every time I see a new, especially ridiculous one, during a time-out or break between acts of Breaking Bad, my first thought is the wish that Dave is watching the commercial, too, ready to turn it into a new favorite story."

- Aaron Burch, editor of Hobart and author of Backswing

Watch the original ads
-- and read excerpts from
Commercial Fiction.

Commercial Fiction in the media

At Heavy Feather, Nicholas Grider explores "a tremendous book that deftly weds psychological complexity behind a TV spot to the artificially sweet narrative of commercial fiction."

At Necessary Fiction, J.M. Gamble writes: "For Housley, commercials have become the mythic ur-texts, and he takes up the poetic task of their undoing -- their reimagining, the peakings-under-their-skin. He, like Keats, takes these mythic people, these every(wo)men of commercials, and unveils the shaking palsies that they always already were."

At Largehearted Boy, Dave compiles a playlist for the collection: "In assembling this playlist, I'm trying to do what I tried to do when I wrote the stories, which is not so much to make fun of the source material (which would be too easy, and not even very much fun) but to use these mostly ridiculous commercials as jumping off points, to take them at face value and try to see what might happen if these people were actual people, with actual complicated, messy lives concerned with more than fast food and cars and beer and erectile dysfunction (spoiler alert: a good deal of the book was written during football season).

Dave Housley is the author of Ryan Seacrest Is Famous (Impetus Press, 2008) and If I Knew the Way, I Would Take You Home (Dzanc, 2014). He is also a founding editor of Barrelhouse and one of the organizing forces behind Conversations and Connections.



Commercial Fiction
by Dave Housley
98 pages
$12.00 paperback ISBN 9781937402600
$9.99 ebook ISBN 9781937402617

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