Synopses & Reviews
Stories of the afterlife, the rugged Northwest, and the early days of Mormonism — by a ferociously imaginative new writer. This stunning debut story collection by an acclaimed McSweeneys
and Tin House
contributor will satisfy fans of such short-fiction masters as Denis Johnson and George Saunders, as well as those readers fascinated by the Mormon faith — and those who enjoyed the show Big Love
and the musical The Book of Mormon
“The First Several Hundred Years Following My Death” is a comic vision of the afterlife in which everyone in heaven is the age they were when they died — a fantasy both profound and absurd. In the tough, tender “About as Fast as This Car Can Go,” a teenager gets introduced to crime after his father is released from jail, and in “Winter Elders,” Mormon missionaries pursue a man who has left the fold — with gruesome results.
In the concluding triptych, Vestal takes on the legends and legacy of Mormonism. “Diviner,” the final piece, is an indelible portrait of the young Joseph Smith, in the days when he was not yet the founder of the Mormon faith but a man hired to find buried treasure.
“Shawn Vestal's Godforsaken Idaho is a wickedly funny, surprisingly profound collection. These nine stories of prophets and parents, of doppelgangers and pocket dogs, form a thrilling introduction to one of the wryest, most inventive new voices in fiction.” Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins
“Godforsaken Idaho mixes the hardpan realism of Richard Ford's Rock Springs with the dreadful wonder of Dan Chaon's best stories. In the lyrical beauty of his sentences, in the brutal choices his characters must make, and in the heartbreaking landscape itself, Shawn Vestal finds startling moments of grace and unexpected redemption.” Kim Barnes, author of In the Kingdom of Men
“Shutter your windows — Godforsaken Idaho is an awesome storm of history, grit, and revelatory imagination. These stories take huge risks and simply do not falter. Shawn Vestal has set out to reimagine the American West, and hes done so with the soulful, single-minded purpose of a half-mad pioneer.” Patrick Somerville, author of This Bright River and The Cradle
For fans of George Saunders and Raymond Carver, this powerful, imaginative story collection takes readers on a journey from the afterlife to contemporary times to the early days of Mormonism — a stunning debut by an acclaimed McSweeneys and Tin House contributor.
Winner of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction
Shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing
Named -Outstanding 2014 Collection- by The Story Prize
Pushcart Prize Winner
In this stunning debut, Shawn Vestal transports us to the afterlife, the rugged Northwest, and the early days of Mormonism. From -The First Several Hundred Years Following My Death, - an absurd, profound vision of a hellish heaven, to -Winter Elders, - in which missionaries calmly and relentlessly pursue a man who has left the fold, these nine stories illuminate the articles of faith that make us human.
The concluding triptych tackles the legends and legacy of Mormonism head-on, culminating in -Diviner, - a seriocomic portrait of the young Joseph Smith, back when he was not yet the founder of a religion but a man hired to find buried treasure. Godforsaken Idaho is an indelible collection by the writer you need to read next.
Godforsaken Idaho named 'Outstanding 2013 Short Story Collections' by The Story Prize
Table of Contents
1. The First Several Hundred Years Following My Death 1
2. About as Fast as This Car Will Go 29
3. Families Are Forever! 45
4. Pocket Dog 71
5. Godforsaken Idaho 91
6. Winter Elders 105
7. Opposition in All Things 127
8. Gulls 169
9. Diviner 181