A Swallow Press Book
“In unsentimental but intimate detail, a collection of stories peels back stereotypes about the lives of women in the past.…In spare but evocative prose, Holladay skillfully and subtly re-creates those earlier times while making clear their parallels to the present.…Women and girls often overlooked by history are given compelling voices in this collection.”
“…[Imagines] the lives of women who participated, unnamed, in so much of American history.…Backed by a beautiful sense of place.”
Garden & Gun
“One after another, the pieces collected here startle and illuminate. From the Sundance Kid’s sweetheart to a child-snatching sorority sister to a heroic telephone operator and more, Brides in the Sky exposes the limitations of our assumptions, while deftly reinventing story form. Each narrative here proves an astonishment, a marvel.” —Lorraine López, author of The Darling
Lorraine López, author of The Darling
“Every tale in this superb collection, from its shortest stories to its novella, is a world unto itself. Each bursts with distinctive life, and yet all feel eerily connected. Holladay moves with such ease in and out of time, in and out of such a diversity of hearts, that you feel you’re under the spell of a guide who knows the secrets of all the old houses on the street. She can show you every room—and the exquisite ghosts therein. Her tour is brilliantly imagined, deeply felt, and beautifully told.”
Tim Johnston, author of Descent
Each of the crystalline worlds Cary Holladay brings us in the short stories and novella that make up Brides in the Sky has sisterhood, in all its urgency and peril, at its heart. In the title story, two women in 1850s Virginia marry brothers who promptly uproot them to follow the Oregon Trail west, until an unexpected shift of allegiance separates the sisters forever. Elsewhere in the book, a young boy’s kidnapping ignites tensions in a sorority house; frontier figure Cynthia Ann Parker struggles upon her return to her birth community from the Comanche people with whom she’s lived a full life; and in a metafictional twist, a gothic tale resonates in the present. In the novella, “A Thousand Stings,” three sisters come of age in the 1960s over a long summer of small-town scandal and universal stakes. These are just some of the lives, shaped by migrations, yearning, and the long shadows of myth, that Holladay creates. She crafts them with subtle humor, a stunning sense of place, and an unerring eye for character.
Cary Holladay has published seven volumes of fiction, including The Quick-Change Artist, Horse People: Stories, and The Deer in the Mirror. Her stories and essays have appeared in Ecotone, Epoch, Georgia Review, Hudson Review, Kenyon Review, Oxford American, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Southern Review, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many other journals. Her story “Merry-Go-Sorry” was selected by Stephen King for an O. Henry award. She teaches at the University of Memphis. More info →
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In these stories of magic and memory, clustered around a resort hotel in a small Virginia community, Cary Holladay takes the reader on an excursion through the changes wrought by time on the community and its visitors. From the quiet of a rural forest to the rhythms of rock and roll, The Quick-Change Artist is at once whimsical and hard-edged, dizzying in its matter-of-fact delivery of the fantastic.
Set in rural America amid an epidemic of opiate abuse, this collection of stories tells of a woman’s search for her own peculiar kind of redemption. Addict, thief, and liar, Maggie Boylan is queen of profanity, a hungry trickster. But she is also a woman of deep compassion and strength. Her journey is by turns frightening, funny, and deeply moving.
At age twenty, Ada’s reputation as a faith healer defines her in her rural Pennsylvania community. But on the day in 1953 that her family’s barn is consumed by flame, her identity is upended: for the first time, she fears death and doubts God. Fire Is Your Water, acclaimed memoirist Jim Minick’s first novel, builds on magical realism and social observation to offer an insider’s glimpse into the culture of Appalachia.
In essays that take wide-ranging forms—ideal for creative nonfiction classes—established and emerging writers with roots in Appalachia take on the theme of silencing in Appalachian culture. They write about families left behind, hard-earned educations, selves transformed, identities chosen, and risks taken.