Conflicted hearts search for human connection upon waters and vivid landscapes.
Randolf, a Susquehanna ferryman, is piloting an Amish wedding party in the title story of this collection, “Nunc Stans—A Ferry Tale.” But mid-river, the ferry snags on a low dam, and a frightened mare bolts from the deck. As Randolf tries to save the ferry, he’s forced to confront his own remorse in a haunting reflection of a couple’s grief, guilt, and awakenings in the aftermath of a stillbirth.
In “Not 2B,” a down-on-his-luck dirt track driver is in search of redemption for the on-track tragedy that made him the scorn and scapegoat of 800 Saturday night race fans.
“Nancy,” inspired by John O’Hara’s Appointment in Samarra, is set in the wilds of northern Pennsylvania and tells the crossing paths of a raw Pennsylvania lumbering crew, an influenza-ridden society man, and a female African American goat farmer.
In “The Wagon Woman,” a story of the irony of highways simultaneously feeding and destroying small towns, an EMT arrives at his most tragic medical incident to discover the aftershock of an illicit love affair he is embroiled in.
In “Mainland,” Robin, an ecology student, is doing graduate fieldwork in Maine. On an evening out, a marine biologist named Susan persuades Robin to join her and three men for an impromptu party on a cobblestone beach. Abandoned with a drunk lobsterman and saving herself from a sexual assault, Robin comes to realize the prerogative of her own fertility and identity.