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Other titles in the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction series:
Bear Down, Bear North: Alaska Stories (Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction)by Melinda Moustakis
Synopses & Reviews
In her debut collection, Melinda Moustakis brings to life a rough-and-tumble family of Alaskan homesteaders through a series of linked stories. Born in Alaska herself to a family with a homesteading legacy, Moustakis examines the near-mythological accounts of the Alaskan wilderness that are her inheritance and probes the question of what it means to live up to larger-than-life expectations for toughness and survival.
The characters in Bear Down, Bear North are salt-tongued fishermen, fisherwomen, and hunters, scrappy storytellers who put themselves in the path of destruction—sometimes a harsh snowstorm, sometimes each other—and live to tell the tale. While backtrolling for kings on the Kenai River or filleting the catch of the Halibut Hellion with marvelous speed, these characters recount the gamble they took that didn’t pay off, or they expound on how not only does Uncle Too-Soon need a girlfriend, the whole state of Alaska needs a girlfriend. A story like “The Mannequin at Soldotna” takes snapshots: a doctor tends to an injured fisherman, a man covets another man’s green fishing lure, a girl is found in the river with a bullet in her head. Another story offers an easy moment with a difficult mother, when she reaches out to touch a breaching whale.
This is a book about taking a fishhook in the eye, about drinking cranberry lick and Jippers and smoking Big-Z cigars. This is a book about the one good joke, or the one night lit up with stars, that might get you through the winter.
In The Creatures at the Absolute Bottom of the Sea, Rosemary McGuire's compelling debut short story collection, fishermen and -women cling to a life on the ocean's border. Risk and loss are habits to them, but ones that have not undermined their essential humanity--or their hearts. Their lives are rugged, full of grief and grace. No one in these stories comes through unscarred, but they still cling to the hope that comes from a belief in secular miracles.
A man witnesses a tragic accident that calls his own life into question. A young woman meets her high school sweetheart after many years, and seeks to make sense of the separate paths they've taken. And in the title story, a soldier home from Iraq tries to rebuild his life in a remote Alaskan village.
These are fishing stories, told as such stories are told: simple, violent, often coarse, but paying homage to the elemental beauty of the sea. In the end, the reader is left with a sense of the fragility and beauty of life, as it is exposed in proximity to danger and loss.
“People break my heart. Every single one of them does.” In settings that range from rural fishing communities to the urban capital, the stories of Cabin, Clearing, Forest are a lyrical road map to the human landscape of contemporary Alaska. In “Blue Ticket,” a stranger finds solace in a Juneau homeless encampment. Old friends argue over the pleasures and perils of small-town life in “A Beginner’s Guide to Leaving Your Hometown,” and in “Every Island Longs for the Continent,” a young family falls apart after moving to Kodiak. In these thirteen stories, Zach Falcon explores the burdens of familiarity and the pains of estrangement through characters struggling with their place in the world.
A man witnesses a tragic accident that calls his own life into question. A young woman meets her high school sweetheart after many years and seeks to make sense of the separate paths they've taken. A soldier home from Iraq tries to rebuild his life in a remote Alaskan village.
These are fishing stories, told as such stories are meant to be: simple, often coarse, and tinged with the elemental beauty of the sea. They reflect rugged lives lived on the edge of the ocean’s borders, where grief and grace ride the same waves. Rosemary McGuire, a fisherman herself, captures the essential humanity at the heart of each tale. No one comes through unscathed, but all retain a sense of hope and belief in earthly miracles, however humble.
A dazzling debut, The Creatures at the Absolute Bottom of the Sea will leave readers with a sense of the fragility and beauty inherent in eroded lives spent in proximity to danger.
About the Author
Table of Contents
The Mannequin in Soldotna 3
The Weight of You 17
Us Kids 33
This One Isn’t Going to Be Afraid 43
Point MacKenzie 53
Miners and Trappers 65
Some Other Animal 89
Mr. Fur Face Needs a Girlfriend 107
They Find the Drowned 125
What You Can Endure 137
The Last Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show 147
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