The co-op bookstore for avid readers
Book Cover for: Balloon Theater: Short Stories and Personal Essays, Steve Moncada Street

Balloon Theater: Short Stories and Personal Essays

Steve Moncada Street

In many parts of the world, a theater that features puppet shows is known as a balloon theater. The title of this collection invokes an image of puppets under the control of a master. In each of these thirty stories and essays, Steve Moncada Street presents an immaculately described, fully inhabited world of authentic characters crossing class and cultural strictures to resist the forces that would control them. A failed musician travels to Russia seeking a wife and rediscovers his inspiration. A SCUBA diver remembers how to see. Two men, one successful, one a failure, meet in a mall and reawaken their long-past rivalry. A cocky high school student who is humiliated in a classroom peer-pressure experiment finds grace and forgiveness. A tough but well-adjusted kid finds poignancy in the home life of a classmate who is neither tough nor well-adjusted. An expatriate teacher who has left his family to engage his true self is unsettled by a cancer diagnosis. A writer in his "last few inches" of life engages his dreadful circumstance with lyrical clarity.


Balloon Theater explores the misunderstandings, satisfactions, self-deceptions, betrayals, and eventual (if tentative) understandings of well-intending people trying to discover their own particular frequencies.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Contingency Street Press
  • Publish Date: Aug 6th, 2024
  • Pages: 332
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 8.50in - 5.50in - 0.74in - 0.93lb
  • EAN: 9781958015063
  • Categories: Short Stories (single author)World Literature - Middle East - General

Praise for this book

"This stunning collection of stories and personal essays-harrowing, wryly insightful, wise, filled with beautifully crafted sentences-displays the remarkable gifts of a writer who sadly never got the recognition he deserved and now can only be appreciated posthumously. He understood breakups, searching for a new life only to find oneself trapped anew, the gap between oneself and the other, and the realization that maybe one was the other, and finally, glimpses of serenity, grasping how to live."-Philip Lopate


"These are literary works often grounded in one's struggle for self-awareness while attempting to create a satisfying life. Executed by an author at the top of his craft, they are provocative and descriptive, at times calling to mind Paul Bowles." -BlueInk Review


"This incisive posthumous collection from Street delves into the "the fundamental paradoxes ... at the core of all human existence" through a mix of short stories and personal essays that draw on Street's experiences teaching at Cairo University and in the U.S., where he blazed trails as an academic labor activist.... Literature with the compulsive pleasure of dish.... [These are] stellar stories and essays of expat life and connection transcending divides."-BookLife, Editor's Pick


"In the evocative literary collection Balloon Theater, expatriates, young couples, and people coming to terms with their roles in the world leave haunting impressions."-Foreword Clarion, four stars


"There's a hard-earned wisdom and quiet craftsmanship to all of Street's pieces, making difficult for the reader to ever tire of them."-Kirkus Reviews