Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

A Swallow Press Book

Maggie Boylan

By Michael Henson

2018 Great Group Reads Selection · Finalist for the 2019 Weatherford Award in fiction

“Trouble—much of it self-inflicted—follows Maggie Boylan, the unconventional hero of this powerful novel from Henson (Ransack). Maggie is ‘straight as a bullet, foul-mouthed, skinny, death-head-looking, Oxy-addled, thieving’—a folk hero for the fentanyl-ravaged heartland.…Despite its short length, Henson’s novel packs a punch: it’s harrowing, haunted, and often beautiful.”

Publishers Weekly

“Henson’s stories are focused, relentless, and beautifully written.… I read every word of this book, and read it slowly. [Maggie is] a failure at almost everything—yet Henson allows her the subtlest of redemptions.…What a balancing act these stories are. It’s the best book I’ve read all year.”

John Thorndike, author of A Hundred Fires in Cuba and The Last of His Mind

“Michael Henson is one of the finest authors of literary fiction writing today. His Maggie Boylan stories give voice to those among us who are seldom heard. Maggie Boylan is an important work of art, beautifully rendered.”

Amy Greene, author of Long Man and Bloodroot

“Henson gets to the heart of working class and underclass people in ways that break your heart and then put it together again through the power of his art.”

Gurney Norman, author of Divine Right’s Trip and Kinfolks

Set in Appalachian Ohio amid an epidemic of prescription opiate abuse, Michael Henson’s linked collection tells of a woman’s search for her own peculiar kind of redemption, and brings the novel-in-stories form to new heights. Maggie Boylan is an addict, thief, liar, and hustler. But she is also a woman of deep compassion and resilience. The stories follow Maggie as she spirals through her addictive process, through the court system and treatment, and into a shaky new beginning.

In these masterful stories, we rarely occupy Maggie’s perspective, but instead gain a multilayered portrait of a community as we see other people’s lives bump up against hers—and we witness her inserting herself into their spheres, refusing to be rebuffed. The result is a prismatic view of a community fighting to stay upright against the headwinds of a drug epidemic: always on edge, always human.

Michael Henson is the author of four books of fiction and four collections of poetry. His prize-winning collection of linked stories, Maggie Boylan (Swallow Press), has been called “an important work of art, beautifully rendered.” His stories, poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in Still: The Journal, Appalachian Heritage, and Threepenny Review.   More info →

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Cover of Maggie Boylan

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Permission to reprint
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Retail price: $18.95, T.
Release date: March 2018
152 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights:  World

Retail price: $29.95, S.
Release date: March 2018
152 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights:  World

Release date: March 2018
152 pages
Rights:  World

Additional Praise for Maggie Boylan

“A devastating short fiction collection about the incestuous relationship between local law enforcement and drug dealers as well as the clients they both share—hapless and resourceful addicts, of which Maggie is queen. Henson’s collection is easily the best fictional account of the widespread meth and Oxy wreckage in Appalachia since Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone.”

Kate Flaherty, Ploughshares

Praise for Michael Henson’s A Small Room with Trouble on My Mind:
“Michael Henson is the Philip Levine of the urban Appalachian working class. His writing is so immediate that you feel the vibrations of guitar strings and sirens, smell beer and sweat, and hear broken glass crunch under your feet. Nothing is pretty in this world, but much is beautiful, seen through Henson’s compassion for his characters and his clarity about generations wrecked by capitalism without conscience.”

George Ella Lyon, 2015–2016 poet laureate of Kentucky

“Every now and again I happen upon a writer who slays me. A writer whose stories resonate with truths so raw, they leave me aching for the characters and the community they inhabit. Michael Henson’s Maggie Boylan is such a book. Henson is a master along the lines of William Gay. Maggie will haunt you.”

Karen Spears Zacharias, author of Mother of Rain

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