Books for your bucks

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    Lists | June 22, 2015

    Stephen Jarvis: IMG Robert Seymour — 13 Pictures

    1. Self-Portrait. My new novel, Death and Mr. Pickwick, tells the story of the origins of Charles Dickens's first novel, The Pickwick Papers. Its... Continue »
    1. $21.00 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

      Death and Mr. Pickwick

      Stephen Jarvis 9780374139667

Qualifying orders ship free.
Used Hardcover
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

A Brief History of the Flood (Vintage Contemporaries)


A Brief History of the Flood (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In Acorn Lake, Minnesota, Lillian Anderson has reached the end of childhood still believing her much-adored mother’s worldview that life is a floating-wedding-cake fantasy fueled by love—that’s it, just love. She believes it even while naming every new pet right away, because anything without a name is likely to get eaten. She believes it in spite of knowing she needs to head home when hunters are hiding behind duck blinds with their shotguns loaded and the safeties off.

But clearly, not everybody is playing by the same rules as her mother, Marion, a resolutely optimistic roller coaster of a woman, equal parts mom, little girl and sexual goddess. Especially not her father, Jack, an easily ignited alcoholic with a talent for making the entire family feel as if they’re living beneath a clenched fist. When Lillian isn’t tiptoeing around her parents, she’s learning about life—and sex—from her two brothers and Mitzy (“My sister is the kind of girl who thinks letting Buddy Franklin fuck her in the Hoffmans’ hayloft is the same thing as a date”), and from her father’s mistress, Betty Boop, who tells her, “Once you learn how to cook and sew, hordes of hungry men will show up on your doorstep dragging gunnysacks full of mending.”

In a family scratching its way down a small-town social ladder, Lillian barrels from childhood into her early twenties with no illusions about her future, biding her time and honing her shorthand. But as she’s struggling to get on her feet and get out, her family’s house—built long ago on landfill hauled in to cover the marsh—is literally going under.

This is the irresistible debut of a writer with a hypnotizing gift for place and voice, and a singular talent for capturing the best and worst of rural life; in eleven linked stories she delivers up a character with the grit and sheer exuberance needed to appreciate the best and overcome the worst. Rich in emotion and brimming with wit, A Brief History of the Flood speaks to the question of whether it is possible, or even desirable, to leave the most troubled of family histories behind, and offers clear-eyed evidence that familial love, in even the most inclement circumstances, finds purchase in us, and persists.

About the Author

Jean Harfenist’s short stories have appeared in Quarterly West, Nimrod, Wisconsin Review, Sonora Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, CrazyHorse and Prism International. She lives in Santa Barbara, California.

Product Details

Harfenist, Jean
Random House
New York
Short Stories (single author)
Young women
Rural families
Working class families
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Vintage Contemporaries
Series Volume:
no. 47
Publication Date:
June 2002
8.80x5.88x.95 in. .90 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. A Closed Eye (Vintage Contemporaries)
    Used Trade Paper $5.95
  2. The Armies of the Night: History as... Used Trade Paper $9.50
  3. Sputnik Sweetheart Used Trade Paper $8.00
  4. The Street
    Used Trade Paper $4.50
  5. Set This House in Order: A Romance...
    Used Trade Paper $8.95
  6. The House on Mango Street (Vintage...
    Used Trade Paper $5.95

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

A Brief History of the Flood (Vintage Contemporaries) Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 224 pages Alfred A. Knopf - English 9780375413933 Reviews:
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at