How to Walk on Water and Other Stories

Rachel Swearingen. New American Press, $14.95 trade paper (182p) ISBN 978-1-941561-22-5
The nine stories in Swearingen’s auspicious debut showcase a gift for well-placed, revealing details. In the vivid “Felina,” a finance executive named Arthur meets self-described “visualist” Felina in a bar and gets invited to her apartment, where she offers him a glass of Polish liqueur, leading him to drift into a memory of getting drunk, lost, and mugged after attending a now former friend’s wedding. In “Boys on a Veranda,” a woman has a strange fixation on postcards: she smells them, rips off the corners, and chews on the pieces. The author excels at sentences that provide surprising change-ups: “She was seeing a therapist, but not telling her much,” or a waitress being filled with “a dreadful kind of pleasure” at the idea of buying a house. Arguably the best story, “The Only Thing Missing Was the Howling of Wolves,” follows a man as he reluctantly helps his unhinged sister baptize her grandson (whom she has kidnapped). Swearingen juxtaposes this intense story with the darkly comic “A Habit of Seeing,” about a baby shower that reminds the protagonist of Twelve Angry Men. Each of the intriguing entries builds suspense before a gratifying or lingering payoff. This crafty collection is worth a look. Agent: Chris Clemans, Janklow & Nesbit. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/06/2020
Release date: 10/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
Discover what to read next