Coming in Summer 2020
Winner of the 2018 New American Press Fiction Prize,
Selected by John McNally
How to Walk on water and other stories
In Rachel Swearingen’s debut collection, How to Walk on Water and Other Stories, we meet grifters, account executives, waitresses, scientists, and artists who willingly open their doors to trouble. An investment banker falls for a self-made artist who transforms the rooms of her dingy apartment into eerie art installations. A young au pair turns her mundane life into a scene from Key Largo, endangering the child in her care. A down-on-his-luck son moves in with his mother and tries to piece together the brutal attack she survived when he was a baby. A brother helps his wayward sister kidnap her grandson to baptize him in the North Woods.
Whether it’s a run-down movie theater in Minneapolis, a haunted brownstone in Chicago, a primitive chapel in the Northern Michigan, a seedy bar in Seattle, or a tourist hotel in Venice, Italy, Swearingen’s powers of observation and suspense show that thoughts as much as place can haunt us. The prose is nimble and often heartbreaking. Even as these stories bristle with menace, they soothe with tenderness and humor. The themes of crime and complicity, as well as art and commerce underpin many of these narratives, as does the question of what it means to survive in a world marked by violence and trauma.