Happy 4th of July — In an Uncharted Country

My first book, In an Uncharted Country, is a collection of linked short stories set in the fictional town of Rugglesville, VA. The book culminates in the final story, “Red Peony,” during the annual 4th of July celebrations, when fireworks, including the Red Peony (pictured at left) illuminate the scene–metaphorically and otherwise.

Happy 4th of July! May your celebrations be safe and may they not unduly disturb my dog (who likes fireworks about as much as he likes thunder).

Still no power!

It’s Sunday morning and as of 7:30am I still didn’t have power. I drove into town looking for coffee and breakfast, but was too early for the locally owned coffee shops so I headed to the outskirts to hit the Starbucks. I’ll stop by the gym on the way home to workout and shower–the water pressure at home is getting low. The good news is that I’m hearing reports of restored power to some in the area, so I’m hopeful that today is the day. It’s now been 36 hours . . .

Yesterday afternoon I went in to Darjeeling Cafe for iced tea and Internet access, then stayed for dinner. The house was hot when I got home, and there wasn’t much I could do. So I listened to the radio for a little while, watched a DVD on the laptop (until I got worried about battery power), and went to be really early. It was hot!

Here’s to restored power!

Downed trees, no power

This isn’t my photo, but it gets the point across. Trees are down all over the area; power is out. The event I was supposed to do today at the Staunton Public Library got canceled. It’s a weird day.

I was over in Charlottesville for a dinner meeting last night and drove back over the mountain at about 9pm. I didn’t know that we were expecting a storm, but as I came down the mountain I saw lightning in the distance. As I pulled off the interstate, the wind was crazy and there was lots of debris on the road. And then as I approached my house, there was a tree down across the road. I had to turn around and find another way home. I had to dodge a few limbs on the roads and then, when I got home, I wasn’t surprised that my garage door didn’t open (because the power was out).

Bhikku was kind of freaked out, naturally, but we hung out together and, when the storm passed, went to sleep.

This morning, still no power. I started the clean up of the yard–a million twigs down and several large limbs–but then headed into town with my laptop to do email and work. Blue Mountain was crazy with powerless refugees, so it was a little hard to work. So I went back home and took a serious crack at the yard–got all the bigger stuff cleared–and then came back into town.

And now my afternoon is free, too, because the event at the library was cancelled. No power, the library is closed.

When will the power at home come back?

Local Authors at Staunton Public Library, 1-5pm, 6/30/12

Libraries are wonderful places, and I was delighted when the Staunton Public Library invited me to participate in “Between the Covers,” an event with 10 local authors.

We’ll be at the library from 1-5pm on Saturday, June 30. Each of us will speak for a few minutes and answer questions, plus our books will be available for sale.

It’s going to be a really hot day, so spending some time inside the cool library is a great idea!

What the Zhang Boys Know is now available for pre-order

My novel in stories, What the Zhang Boys Know, is now available for pre-order from the publisher, Press 53. Go here to reserve your autographed copy, scheduled to ship in mid-August, weeks before the official publication date.

Set in a condominium building on the edge of Chinatown in Washington, D.C., these stories present the struggle of Zhang Feng-qi, originally from Shanghai, to find a new mother for his sons following the death of his American wife. Along the way, the stories spotlight Zhang’s neighbors as they seek to fill gaps in their own lives. And then there are the Zhang boys, who firmly believe that their mother is coming back. What is it that they know?

Praise for What the Zhang Boys Know
“A widower, a sculptor, a minor poet, an interior designer, and a painter are just a few of Clifford Garstang’s affecting characters, residents of Nanking Mansion, the setting for these deeply satisfying, life-affirming stories linked by neighborliness in a ‘not-quite-gentrified’ neighborhood. Garstang’s characters strive to transcend ‘the deep quite of absence’ in the wake of all manners of devastations. They leave their doors unlocked, they console, they make room, they share what they have made of sorrow, so proving, as do these stories, the solace to be found in art.”
  — Christine Schutt, author of National Book Award-finalistFlorida, and Pulitzer Prize-finalist All Souls.


What the Zhang Boys Know has a dozen chapters, each one a vivid short story in itself. Garstang makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. The lives of the inhabitants of a condominium in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown are told separately and as part of a web of entanglements. The entrances and exits are handled with the deftness of a French comedy, but the empathy of the author brings all the characters achingly alive. What the Zhang Boys Know is a wonderful and haunting book.
  — John Casey, author of Compass Rose and Spartina, winner of the National Book Award.


“Clifford Garstang presents one of the more memorably settings I’ve seen in any book, Nanking Mansion, a renovated tenement in D.C.’s Chinatown, filled with characters whose stories are more fantastic than they first appear. In prose that is measured and confident, he carefully works to show us how these characters’ grief and loneliness becomes unified by their collective setting to transform into something utterly beautiful and unforgettable. What a world Garstang has built for us, and how grateful I was to discover it.”
  — Kevin Wilson, author of Tunneling to the Center of the Earthand NYT Best Seller The Family Fang 


“In the tradition of the best volumes of linked stories, from Susan Minot’s Monkeys and Rand Cooper’s The Last to Go to David Schickler’s Kissing in Manhattan, Clifford Garstang’s What the Zhang Boys Know traces a graceful arc, as the meanings and moments in the stories accrue. Garstang’s inventive and original writing, a beguiling invitation to myriad subplots and destinations, offers what every reader desires: a lucid and satisfying experience of literature.”
  — Katharine Weber, author of Triangle, True Confections, The Memory of All That

“The Year of the Rooster” in r.kv.r.y

I’m very pleased to have a short piece up in the summer issue of r.kv.r.y, a beautiful magazine edited by Mary Akers. This issue has an Asia theme. I hope you enjoy “The Year of the Rooster.”

The Good Men Project interviews me

Have you heard about The Good Men Project? It’s a web-based alternative to the glossy magazines that I’ve come to despise. Here’s an excerpt from the site’s “about us” page:

Guys today are neither the mindless, sex-obsessed buffoons nor the stoic automatons our culture so often makes them out to be. Our community is smart, compassionate, curious, and open-minded; they strive to be good fathers and husbands, citizens and friends, to lead by example at home and in the workplace, and to understand their role in a changing world. The Good Men Project is a place where that happens. We’re glad to have you along for the ride.

Having long given up on GQ and Esquire to tell me anything I really needed to know, I’m really glad to have TGMP to fill the gap.

And recently, Cameron Conaway did me the great honor of interviewing me for the site: Man-to-man with lawyer turned author Clifford Garstang.

Prime Number Magazine Update 19.5, plus NEWS

Prime Decimals 19.5–the latest update to Issue 19 of Prime Number–is now live and features poetry by Lois Marie Harrod and Sean Thomas Dougherty and flash fiction by Gerald Fleming, Cezarija Abartis, and Mamie Potter.

Plus, we’re pleased to announce that we’re now accepting longer stories and creative nonfiction–up to 5,000 words. Please visit our submission guidelines for more information.

eBook Price Going Up; Buy Now!

Since publication, the price for the Kindle and Nook editions of In an Uncharted Country has been set by my publisher at $3.99. Press 53 has just informed its authors that the price will be going up to $7.99 on July 1. While this looks like a significant increase, it’s still much lower than most eBooks, which are generally priced at $9.99 or higher.

But July 1 is still over a week away, so you’ve got plenty of time to take advantage of the lower price. Buy the Kindle version, or the Nook version.

New Website

night in blueThis post is a little circular because I’m announcing the arrival of my new website and integrated blog, but since you’re seeing the post, you’re already seeing the new site!

But I invite you to explore, not only the blog (all the old Perpetual Folly posts have migrated), but also the rest of the site–links, descriptions of my books,  my events page, etc. And while you’re here, please sign up for my mailing list so I can send you notices of the events I’ll be doing this fall in support of the new book, What the Zhang Boys Know.