The Temple of Air

A Vacation on the Island of Ex-Boyfriends

Stacy Bierlein
ISBN: 9780615529776
Pages: 186
Binding: Paperback
Price: $16:00

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The Critics Have Spoken

"Bierlein's women refuse to repent, or even indulge in much guilt. Life is messy. Sex is more so. Love is a mystery. While Bierlein's stories are often wild and sometimes leap over the edge of fantasy, they are also just like life." —Laura Krughoff, American Book Review

"Bierlein's stories are compellingly and artfully written." —Julianna Thibodeaux, Nuvo

"In her insightful debut collection of 14 short stories, Bierlein explores the many dimensions of a woman's heart through the experiences of a diverse and unique cast…Bierlein's deft character development, nuanced prose, and honest treatment of the ups and downs of love make this a memorable and engaging collection—a trip readers will want to take again and again." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Stellar collection of heady and affecting stories…Bierlein’s characters test the parameters of love and trust in lust while cherishing friendship above all. With their sudden slicing dives through bright, scintillating surfaces into the cold darkness of pain and fear, Bierlein’s dagger sharp, witty, authentic stories reveal what life is like now for women torn between anything goes and choices of a lifetime." —Donna Seaman, Booklist

"Do not be misled by the book’s fun and feminine cover, which may cause some to assume that A Vacation to the Island of Ex-boyfriends is a chick-lit, beachy, in-and-out sort of read. It is most definitely anything but. Bierlein has written an unflinching account of what it means to find, lose, and regain oneself within the melee of meaningful relationships, imparting her truth with intelligent wit, stunning clarity, raw emotion, and finely honed humor." —Lauryn Allison Lewis,

"Her prose rides the line between fantasy and reality, between the exotic and the familiar, all with a fresh approach to language and storytelling…Strong, searing, sexy, funny, Bierlein’s characters leap off the page as they dance the intricate dance of dangerous love." —Axie Barclay, San Francisco Book Review

"Bierlein's easy prose depicts the joy, despair, and longing of her female characters, creating a landscape of feminine sexuality with strong themes of friendship, loss, and salvation." —Bookslut


In three days we have played, cried, ran, fought, laughed, danced, and built fires with them all--every man we’ve ever wanted. We’re exhausted.

Two friends plan a visit to Nantucket, but find themselves on a different island completely, where the men they have loved are lined up on the beach in chronological order. A grieving mother and daughter encounter naked strangers in unexpected places en route to the Dordogne River. A restless New York artist travels to Madrid to find a European lover, only to fall for another persnickety New Yorker. Such quirks of fate are the hallmark of Stacy Bierlein’ s debut story collection. From that mysterious island in the Atlantic to the crowded highways of Los Angeles; from the Charles Bridge in Prague, to the temples of Luxor and the most remote regions of the Myanmar peninsula, Bierlein's characters are women of dazzling ironies and introspections, always in motion and trusting in love--even when it remains out of reach.

Read the Title Story

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Early Praise

"Women and men are still islands, and neither sexual liberation nor feminism have brought the sexes any closer to understanding each other or living together in something approaching harmony. Bierlein’s heroines show us that the most dangerous act of all is to love and that it is still impossible to stop dreaming about the one soul that will unlock the secret to who we were meant to be." —Stefan Kiesbye, Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone

"Bierlein’s sentences strut across the page in the highest of heels. The reader cannot help but follow them into a world of craving, wit, and the unexpectedness of human connection—sometimes delightful, sometimes searing, always sexy." —Marisa Matarazzo, Drenched: Stories of Love and Other Deliriums

"Stacy Bierlein's stories are beautifully made, constantly surprising and utterly believable.  She tightropes an enviable line between making unknown worlds utterly familar, and turning the known world into something tantilizingly exotic, undeniably fresh.  If you are lucky, her narrators will remind you of the best friends you've ever had, sharp-edged steely-eyed women with weaknesses for all of the best things in life.  These are stories that will make you laugh, and long for, and challenge, and think." —Pam Houston, Sighthound, Waltzing the Cat, Cowboys Are My Weakness
"A Vacation on the Island of Ex-Boyfriends intoxicates like the best doomed love affairs.  Bierlein possesses the sober precision of a clairvoyant who knows better, but who can’t resist the ride." —Gina Frangello, Slut Lullabies, My Sister’s Continent
“Stacy Bierlein’s short fiction is elegant, sensuous, and tough too.  In addition to story, there’s rhythm here—heart and depth and precision.  Page after page I am struck by their lyricism and urgency.”  —Lisa Glatt, A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That, The Apple’s Bruise
“Stacy Bierlein’s work is like a glass of water with cucumber slices in it.  What I mean is that the vitality in her prose is absolutely refreshing.  Things you don’t expect suddenly make complete sense.”  —Aimee Bender, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, Willful Creatures 

Stacy Bierlein

Patricia Ann McNair


Stacy Bierlein is the editor of the award-winning anthology, A Stranger Among Us: Stories of Cross Cultural Collision and Connection, and coeditor of Men Undressed: Female Writers and the Male Sexual Experience. She is a founding editor of the independent press Other Voices Books, and co-creator of the Morgan Street International Novel Series. Her articles about writing, publishing, and the arts appear on various websites, including She lives in Southern California.

Author Events

Sunday, March 10th
2:00 p.m. EST
Patricia Ann McNair & Stacy Bierlein
In-Store reading
UConn Co-op
Storrs, CT

Author Interviews

Gatehouse News Service
Chicago Publishers Podcast



Seven-city author tour; online promotions including social media tour and active Twitter platform;
reading group campaign with reader’s guide and author appearances; bookseller materials including postcards, author
poster, and jacket blowups; regional advertising.