Bright Shards of Someplace Else

Bright Shards of Someplace ElseFlannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction

In these eleven kaleidoscopic stories, Monica McFawn traces the combustive, hilarious, and profound effects that occur when people misread the minds of others. The characters—an array of artists, scientists, songwriters, nannies, horse trainers, and poets—often try to pin down another’s point of view, only to find that their own worldview is far from fixed.  A young boy reduces his nanny’s phone bill with a call, then convinces her he can solve her other problems. A poetry professor becomes entangled in the investigation of murdered student. In the final story, an aging lyricist reconnects with a renowned singer to write an album in the Appalachian Mountains, only to be interrupted by his drug-addicted son and a mythical story of recovery.  By turns exuberant and philosophical adroit, Bright Shards of Someplace Else reminds us of both the limits of empathy and its absolute necessity. 


“What a strange and wondrous band of misfits, isolatos, geniuses and obsessives of every stripe populates Monica McFawn’s Bright Shards of Someplace Else. Her specializing in such types and their crazy experiments tells us that McFawn is a romantic, not of the love and nature type but of the Mary Shelley and Frankenstein type. Her protagonists choose trouble, even bad trouble, every time, because the alternative — which they see only too clearly — is the yawn of nothing at the far edge of the possible.” > Jaimy Gordon, National Book Award Winner, Lord of Misrule

“With a watchmaker’s precision, Monica McFawn crafts stories that tick and build slowly toward seemingly inevitable yet not-quite-arrived-at resolutions: a new supervisor puts off—again and again—firing a problem employee; the victim of a warehouse robbery beating crawls slowly toward a phone…. Each scenario offers a Jamesian immersion into character consciousness that teems with delight and discovery and surprise. Like some newly discovered newt or loris that alters our view of an entire species, this book is strange and thrilling and very beautiful.  I loved these stories.”> Daniel Orozco​, author of Orientation

“Every good story makes the reader see the world in a different way, but McFawn helps us to see differently on every single page. She writes with an inventiveness and precision that startles, entertains, and convinces: of course that’s what snow is like, or a dead horse, or an aggrieved father. Her stories are fresh and often wonderfully strange, but also deeply insightful and emotionally complex. McFawn’s effervescent writing helps us both to see anew, and to recognize ourselves.” > Caitlin Horrocks, author of This is Not Your City 

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