cover image Half an Inch of Water

Half an Inch of Water

Percival Everett. Graywolf, $16 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-55597-719-1

Everett’s writing style is difficult to pin down, and his latest collection will provide readers with a new set of wonderful enigmas. Set in the snowy western U.S., the stories are stylistically mercurial—equal parts zany and somber, highlighting Everett’s masterly dexterity as a writer. The collection meditates on mystery, within relationships and in the natural world. In “Stonefly,” one of the collection’s strongest offerings, a boy goes after a nearly mythical king trout as a way to cope with the recent drowning death of his sister. “Finding Billy White Feather” and “Graham Greene” deal with futile searches for men that only exist in exaggerations and hearsay. “Liquid Glass” involves auto mechanics, a severed head, and the appearance of a giant lumbering ghost, all described amid mundane moments: “They shook hands, Donnie sat behind the wheel of the Silverado and Keasey sat in the passenger seat. They talked for a few minutes more and then rolled away.” There’s a constant sense while reading Everett that he’s winking at his reader, welcoming them in on a joke that is not entirely clear. His stories, with their wide array of literary influences and referential nods, are imminently familiar yet somehow constantly surprising. (Sept.)