Winner of the Maria Thomas Fiction Award and the IPPY Gold Medal for Best Regional Fiction–Mid-Atlantic 2010.
In an Uncharted Country showcases award-winning stories about ordinary men and women in and around Rugglesville, Virginia, as they struggle to find places and identities in their families and the community. They experience natural disasters, a sun-worshipping cult, Vietnam flashbacks, kidnapping, addiction, and loss. The book’s opening story, “Flood, 1978,” follows Hank, who comes to understand his father’s deep sense of grief over the death of his wife. Later, in “Hand-painted Angel,” Hank’s sons see the family spinning apart as their father ages and family secrets are disclosed. In “The Clattering of Bones,” Walt mourns the collapse of his marriage after the loss of a child, but in the collection’s title story he recognizes his emotional need for family. The concluding story, “Red Peony,” unifies the collection, as many of the characters from other stories come together for a tumultuous 4th of July Celebration.
Praise for In an Uncharted Country:
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
The book’s cover photograph is “Farm Implements” by Bob Miller