“In this powerful and engaging debut collection, The Current That Carries, Lisa Graley writes knowingly and powerfully about the nature of family in the rural world of small towns as people struggle to take hard care of each other . . . and their animals. The stubborn hope living here is strongly reminiscent of the stories of Annie Proulx: all these lives at—or near—the end of the road reluctantly offering up their secrets.”
—Ron Carlson, author of Return to Oakpine
"From a grandmother who writes a letter to Ron Howard imploring him to direct a movie about a community tragedy, to a son who discovers a tractor mysteriously buried in his recently deceased father’s grave, to a beloved goat that appears as a ghost to a man living out his last days, you will be surprised and enthralled by the terrain covered in The Current That Carries. Lisa Graley writes with compassion, empathy, and a deep understanding of characters struggling with identities and responsibilities, or simply with staying alive. These powerful and honest stories not only examine the fragility of the human body but, more importantly, the resilience of the human heart."
“The Current That Carries is profoundly in touch with the ways the world can reveal transcendent grace through the simplest things, the humblest things, even in the quotidian clutter of modern life and culture. These are ravishingly beautiful stories. Lisa Graley is truly an important new writer. Flannery O’Connor would have loved her sensibility, would have loved this book.”
—Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
This collection bristles and hums with the rugged resilience one encounters in southern and Appalachian fiction, where ghosts of loved ones and livestock alike haunt an underworld of lonely trails. Set in West Virginia, the stories take up residence with rural characters who defend their mailboxes against teenagers, bathe and feed their bedridden elders, and circle the inflated orbs of love and desire in high school gymnasiums. Whole lifetimes flare in an instant as characters scramble to sift through the past’s wreckage to find some small miracle in the present.
If there is nostalgia, it’s for a South without billboards, talk shows, and children with iPods dangling from their ears. It’s for a South where you can go pick a ripe tomato to slice for the mayonnaise on your sandwich because you found time to plant a garden. And if there’s grace, it is in the careful wading through a shifting current to reach possibilities snagged at the bottom of a trotline.
In lean, muscular prose, Lisa Graley pays homage to the daily chores that make up a lifetime. With delicate precision, she renders the boundaries, as thin as the blade of a shovel, between fear and courage, rejection and compassion.
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