What We Do with the Wreckage

Stories by Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum

Stories that capture the necessity and bravery of perseverance


“How rare is the writer who truly understands invisibility: the invisibility of being young and the very different sort that plagues those grown old; the fraught invisibility of motherhood and that of being a girl in this world who is disappearing from the inside out. Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum sees these people, gives them form and substance through language that is graceful and nuanced, at times humorous, nearly always compassionate, often (enough) hopeful. A beautiful, deeply compelling collection.”
—Lori Ostlund, author of The Bigness of the World


The stories in Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum’s new collection are about finding resilience in the face of adversity. Following losses big and small, environmental and familial, universal and personal, the best of us try to recover and rebuild. Lunstrum asks: How do we keep going in the face of grief or disappointment when love fails or disaster strikes? How do we maintain the stamina to carry on in an uncertain world? The characters in her stories are living these questions and learning to reconstruct themselves, their families, and their futures from the wreckage of their broken pasts.

Excerpt from "Endlings"

Dr. Katya Vidovic stands outside the hospital courtyard gate, watching the Reptile Man exercise his pets. He has come to entertain the girls—her patients—who are prone to unnatural behaviors when left unsupervised. They’ve been known to pull out their own hair by the fistful, to tattoo their inner arms and thighs with the needles of safety pins, to slip into the ward’s bathroom and quietly vomit the contents of their last meal. Now, however, they sit like angels, their angular bodies arranged just so on the courtyard grass, their spindle-fingered hands folded in their laps as the leashed tortoise lumbers forward before them and the copperhead looks on—languid and apparently bored—from its empty glass terrarium.

Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction

Page count: 240 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5


List price: $24.95

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KIRSTEN SUNDBERG LUNSTRUM is the author of two collections of short fiction: This Life She’s Chosen and Swimming with Strangers. Her short fiction and essays have appeared widely in journals, including One Story, the American Scholar, Willow Springs, and Southern Humanities Review. She is also a recipient of a PEN/O. Henry Prize and teaches high school English near Seattle, Washington.