Ten years ago this month, Press 53 published my first book, In an Uncharted Country, a collection of linked short stories. By the time the book came out, all but one of the stories had appeared in magazines, either online or in print, but it was a huge thrill to see them in book form and to be able to share them with readers.
I began writing the stories shortly after I moved to the Shenandoah Valley from Washington DC. I loved the new environment, but it took me a while to feel at home. That sense of displacement apparently informed my writing from that period, because many of the stories in the book are about people who are feeling out of place–newcomers to the small town that is the setting for the book, or estranged from their families, or otherwise feeling lost.
Some writers I admire greatly were generous with their praise:
This collection delivers on its title: each story takes us into an area–emotional and geographic–that we may not have been before. There is an impressive variety here, and Garstang’s ability as a storyteller is on display each time. These characters are real, vulnerable, and always, in unique ways, brave. — Elizabeth Strout, author of Pulitzer Prize-winner Olive Kitteridge
In an Uncharted Country is an impeccably written, sumptuously imagined, and completely enchanting book of stories, each with its own high ambitions, each successful both as prose and as story. Clifford Garstang is the real thing–a writer loaded with talent. And this book is a reminder of the delightful miracles a good story can perform in a reader’s heart. — Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried and National Book Award-winner Going After Cacciato
In an Uncharted Country is a subtly braided collection of spare, taut stories that conjures a community and a way of life with respect, affection and intimacy. Clifford Garstang often captures his characters at sharp moments of loss, but it is their dogged perseverance in the face of those losses that makes these figures move us. — Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl and winner of the 2008 PEN/Malamud Award for Short Fiction
If you would like to buy a copy of the book, Press 53 has it on sale for $10. Or, if you see me, I’ll be happy to sell you one for that price, too. Signed!
Happy 10th Birthday to my first book!