by Morgan Talty ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 5, 2022

    In 12 linked stories, all narrated by a character named David, Talty’s debut collection provides an unsparing perspective on the harsh reality of life in the Panawahpskek (Penobscot) Nation of Maine.

    Drug addiction, mental illness, and economic insecurity haunt Talty’s characters, whose personal flaws and straitened circumstances combine to keep them trapped in a cycle of poverty and despair. As a child, in the story “In a Jar,” David lives with his mother and her partner, Frick, a part-time medicine man and equally part-time father figure, when his pregnant older sister, Paige, arrives to ratchet up the tension in the family’s already overburdened life. By the time David reaches young adulthood, as portrayed in stories like “Burn” and “Get Me Some Medicine,” he’s hanging out with Fellis, his friend and fellow visitor to the local methadone clinic. The pair spend their evenings drinking and contemplating how they’ll get their hands on “pins” (Klonopin), culminating in the story “Half-Life,” in which David asks himself, “How’d we get here?” but then wonders whether “the only question that matters” is “How do we get out of here?” For all his stories’ terse realism, Talty, a citizen of the Penobscot Nation, is adept at unearthing his characters’ emotions, as he does in the elegiac “The Blessing Tobacco,” in which David’s grandmother, well down the road of cognitive decline, believes he’s her late brother Robbie, who died as a young boy, and fiendishly punishes him to exorcise her guilt for her role in Robbie’s long-ago death. David’s observation in the story “Earth, Speak” that “this reservation was for the dead” serves as a mournful benediction over these bleak, but empathetic, tales.

    Ranging from grim to tender, these stories reveal the hardships facing a young Native American in contemporary America.

    Pub Date: July 5, 2022

    ISBN: 978-1-953-53418-7

    Page Count: 296

    Publisher: Tin House

    Review Posted Online: April 22, 2022

    Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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