“Ranging from expat life in Thailand, to the LA ghetto, to the world of high schools and shopping malls, Brad Philen’s stories demonstrate a keen ear for dialogue, a sharp eye for local and regional detail, and an admirable ability to inhabit the lives of people from a wide cross-section of races, classes, and national origins.”

-Ed Allen, author or Mustang Sally

“Bradford Philen’s writing is fresh and new, exploring culture and masculinity in an original style. Highly recommended.”

-Jo-Ann Mapson, author of Owen’s Daughter and Blue Rodeo 

“Set all over the globe, Bradford Philen’s stunning stories track protagonists looking to run away, to reinvent themselves. Yet they get yanked backwards into the past. They want to be untethered, but first, they have messes to clean up, like Dickie whose father’s kidneys are failing, who confides to a girl “‘I wish my Dad would go ahead and die.’” This collection is populated by lovesick prize fighters, disaffected law students, tough girls who steal gold medals from the drunk Russian athlete they’ve seduced, a housewife rattled by the discovery that the boy to whom she lost her virginity is now a suspected Jihadist. Many of Philen’s protagonists are young people who have to shoulder far too much responsibility. Dickie tends to his father on dialysis, leaking excrement, when his mother bails. In Philen’s brilliant “Informal Letter Written by a Student to Her English Teacher Whilst Having Too Much Time Left Over in Gym 2 after Finishing the S.A.T. Way Too Early”, part confession, part accusation, Amanda stands up for the girl at school getting exploited by the popular boys, while adults look the other way. Amanda concludes, of the boys’ misbehavior, “I’m sure you knew too, Mr. Sturdivant. Everybody kind of knows, right?” Witty, tender, excoriating, barbed, Philen’s story collection calls out and lays bare this eviscerating knowledge.”

-Kim Magowan, author of The Light Source and Undoing

“Like all great writing, When the Color Started defies being summarized.  Philen reinvents the world story by story.  The range of voices speaking here is astonishing. Whether it’s a young black woman describing the gentrification of her southern California neighborhood or an expat MMA fighter in Thailand hopelessly in love with a young prostitute you won’t have read anything like these stories before.”

-David Stevenson, author of Forty Crows

“An expat American boxer flattened by heartbreak on the beach at Phuket. A Las Vegas limo driver hauling a mysterious woman with a bag full of cash and drugs. A Senegalese Muslim teenager in an English language class in Beijing. The settings of Bradford Philen’s story collection circle the globe like a mad adventurer, but the stories themselves never leave the always teeming territory of the human heart.”

-Richard Chiappone, author of Water of an Undetermined Depth