203 x 137 mm PBK
978 0 9551264 4 4
In a country she chose for 'its landscapes and lax visa-extension policies', Mary is a tour guide at a remote lodge in the Amazon. There she meets Héctor, who sneaks into her hammock late at night and leaves tiny gifts at her door, tempting her to stay longer than she'd planned. But then she begins to see fires on uninhabited land, hear gunshots, cross suspicious strangers in the dead of night. She doesn't know if it's the start of another undeclared civil war or simply retribution on the lodge owner, whose husband had fought with the rebels before disappearing for a decade. When he reappears, Mary is forced to confront the reality of her situation and decide where her loyalties lie.
In this stunning debut work, we are swept up in an exotic world, its familiar cruelty saturated with beauty. Finally, we are left only with a lingering taste of the moments in our own lives when we were forced to choose between joy and restraint, myth and logic.
Melanie Westerberg's short stories have appeared in Third Coast; Mid-American Review; and the Best New American Voices 2006 anthology, edited by Jane Smiley; her work has also been translated into Czech for RozRazil Revue. She lives in Austin, Texas.
‘A dark, rich debut. Melanie Westerberg is a writer to watch.’
—Christine Dwyer Hickey, author of Tatty
‘Melanie Westerberg has written a wondrous first book. The writing is unique and brave, and the story is as engaging as it is harrowing. It's the sort of rare, completely original book I am always looking for and never finding.’
—Peter Orner, author of The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo