The Land of Uz
--A finalist for the 2021 St. Lawrence Book Award from Black Lawrence Press--
This short story collection borrows its title from the mythical setting of The Book of Job in the Old Testament. The Land of Uz is a place of improbable, almost comical misfortune. There, you suffer arbitrary punishment at the hands of a capricious God. He kills your family and robs you blind. He covers you with boils! It is a place of loneliness, absurdity, and bad skin.
The Land of Uz, mentioned nowhere else in the Bible, does not exist, and yet it does. I like to think all my characters live there, especially the ones in this collection: After experiencing sexual assault, a pianist leaves behind her conservatory and gives tours in a shoddy Glenn Gould museum. A recent college graduate’s plans to study nonsense poetry in Ireland on a Fulbright scholarship are derailed by a severe case of acid reflux disease. A female character in an unfinished John Cheever draft waits in despair for him to finish writing her story.
Uz has no exact coordinates. In these stories, it is a place that arises when you’re stuck in South Georgia, confined to the Florida Panhandle, constrained by gender roles, trapped inside your own head. Being a mythical land, it has its fair share of mythical occurrences. In one story, a shy boy befriends the ghost of Marcel Proust. In another, a college student attracts international fame by singing opera in his dorm shower. Voice-driven and threaded with dark humor, these stories explore confinement and the ways in which we plot our escapes.
There are sixteen stories in this collection; many have been published or are forthcoming in journals including Glimmer Train, The Iowa Review, Pleiades, Wigleaf, Passages North, Hobart, and others. This book currently does not have representation, and I'd be more than happy to consider any queries.