Bright Shards of Someplace Else

Stories by Monica McFawn

Stories of people who seek understanding but find trouble in their encounters with others


"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

"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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In the eleven kaleidoscopic stories that make up Bright Shards of Someplace Else, 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.

The characters in McFawn’s stories long for and fear the encroachment of others. A young boy reduces his nanny’s phone bill with a call, then convinces her he can solve her other problems. A man who works at a butterfly-release business becomes dangerously obsessed with solving a famous mathematical proof. A poetry professor finds himself entangled in the investigation of a 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 the appearance of his drug-addicted son and a mythical story of recovery.

By turns exuberant and philosophically adroit, Bright Shards of Someplace Else reminds us of both the limits of empathy and its absolute necessity. Our misreadings of others may be unavoidable, but they themselves can be things of beauty, charm, and connection.

Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction

Page count: 176
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $24.95

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List price: $19.95

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Monica McFawn lives in Michigan and teaches writing at Grand Valley State University. Her fiction has appeared in the Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, Web Conjunctions, Missouri Review and others. She is also the author of a hybrid chapbook, "A Catalogue of Rare Movements" and her plays and screenplays have had readings in Chicago and New York.