The Current That Carries

Stories by Lisa Graley

Stories about grit, gratitude, and grace in Appalachian West Virginia


"A subtle, powerful portrait of the strength and limits of human connectedness."
Kirkus Reviews

“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

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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.

Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction

Page count: 176 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $24.95

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List price: $19.95

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Lisa Graley is an assistant professor of English and humanities at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the author of the book of poetry Box of Blue Horses. She was awarded an ATLAS (Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars) sabbatical in 2009–10 by the Louisiana Board of Regents. Her stories have appeared in Glimmer Train, the Georgia Review, and the McNeese Review.