Mad Prairie: Stories and a Novella (Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction #119) (Paperback)
In this scary, funny, and slyly political short story collection, Kate McIntyre conjures a fever dream of contemporary Kansas. Boundaries between fantasy and reality blur, and grotesque acts birth strange progeny. A mother must choose between her children and her personal safety when her husband steadily excavates a moat around their country home, his very own little border wall. A Kansas politician grapples with international notoriety after an accident traps salt miners hundreds of feet underground--in the same salt mine where his brother was murdered. A bigot's newly transplanted liver gives him a taste for upbeat 1980s dance tracks while nudging him toward darker plans. And across several stories, we follow Miriam, a young overachiever hell-bent on leaving her home state who is lured back after college to teach elementary school in a rural community. In Culvert, Kansas, Miriam finds closed mouths and big secrets: the toxic waste storage for the battery factory leaches into the soil; the hog farm waste lagoons have sprung leaks; and her students, at turns psychic, lethargic, and aggressive, might not be human.
KATE McINTYRE's fiction and essays have appeared in such journals as Denver Quarterly, the Cincinnati Review, Copper Nickel, and the Cimarron Review, and she is a recipient of residencies at Hambidge, Playa, and the Spring Creek Project. She has a notable essay in Best American Essays 2014 and Special Mentions in the 2016 and 2019 Pushcart Prize anthologies. An assistant professor of creative writing at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, she lives in Worcester, Massachusetts.