Maggie Brown & Others



By Peter Orner

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In this powerful and virtuosic collection of interlocking stories, each one “a marvel of concision and compassion” (Washington Post), a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and “master of his form” (New York Times) takes the short story to new heights.

Through forty-four compressed gems, Peter Orner, a writer who “doesn’t simply bring his characters to life, he gives them souls” (NYT Book Review), chronicles people whose lives are at inflection points, gripping us with a series of defining moments.

Whether it’s a first date that turns into a late-night road trip to a séance in an abandoned airplane hangar, or a family’s memories of the painful mystery surrounding a neglected uncle’s demise, Orner reveals how our fleeting decisions between kindness and abandonment chase us across time. These stories are anchored by a poignant novella that delivers not only the joys and travails of a forty-year marriage, but an entire era in a working-class New England city. Bristling with the crackling energy of life itself, Maggie Brown & Others marks the most sustained achievement to date for “a master of his form” (New York Times).
  • A New York Times Notable Book
  • A Chicago Tribune Notable Book
  • An Oprah Magazine Best Book of 2019
  • Kirkus Reviews Best Short Fiction of 2019
  • Longlisted for the Simpson/Joyce Carol Oates Prize


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At that moment it all seemed extraordinary to me

and made me want to flee from it and yet remain forever.


—Isaac Babel



Come back to California, come back to California
every mapmaker, every mapmaker is pleading.


—Jack Spicer, "Letters to James Alexander"

The Deer

When she was a kid, she watched a mountain lion chase a deer into the lagoon at low tide. She'd been riding her bike on the path along the edge of Murch's farm. The deer ran out so far into the water that the mountain lion turned back to the shore and vanished into the trees. An hour later, the deer was still stuck in the mud. The tide began to roll back in through the channel connecting the lagoon to open water. She was only a kid, but as she watched the deer out there alone, she knew almost right away that this was something she'd carry the rest of her life. Later, she heard that a tourist, seeing the deer in the lagoon from Highway 1, had called the fire department and begged them to do something. The assistant chief said, "What do you want me to do about it? Go out there with a boat and get kicked in the head? Call the DNR." The lagoon, the waves, the motionless deer. It made no sound, or at least none that she could hear from where she was sitting as it waited, or seemed to wait, while the water rose, covering its legs and then rising higher.

She'd sat on a wet log and watched. The damp seeped through her pants. The wind began to blow inland from the ocean. No, it wasn't really happening. Even then it was more like an image, fixed, not a breathing deer out there in the water. So much of what she remembers became lodged this way. Something occurs, in the motion of the present, but it's already over. Because even then, even as she watched, she was already moving away from it, already thinking how years from now she might tell someone about this. Someone who's never seen this lagoon. The wind began to blow harder. The sun had long since fallen, but there was some light left. When she couldn't watch anymore, when she picked her bike off the ground and rode away, the water had reached the deer's chest, and still it had not moved.

Fowlers Lake

Fowlers Lake is out past the national forest campground, about nine miles or so from McCloud, California, off Route 89. It's not a lake; it's a swimming hole, a place where the river widens out. Somebody built a crude dam there fifty years ago. We call it our lake, our mountain lake, and it's so cold you can swim only in August, when it's hot enough outside. Sometimes in July, maybe a week or two into September, depending on the year. Billy and I liked to go out to Fowlers in the late afternoon when the sun was just about to drop beneath the tops of the trees. The place was usually less crowded with campers by then and we could pretty much have the lake to ourselves. I read a philosopher once who said heat and cold are pretty much the same thing, that their contraries are mirrors. Whatever the hell he meant, he never swam at Fowlers. Heat, isn't it amazing how it vanishes? It's so heavy when you're in the thick of it. As soon as the sun began to drop, no matter how hot the day, the shadows always brought a sudden chill, and that was the exact moment we chose to swim.

It was a Wednesday, and the parking lot was empty when we got there except for a pregnant woman with a flat tire and no spare. She said she was from Shasta City and that her boyfriend wasn't answering his phone. There's no reception out at Fowlers. She must have told us that in order to seem less helpless.

Billy, who was an expert on everything, said the rim of his truck's spare wouldn't match the rim of her little Mazda. Otherwise he'd lend her a tire. Instead, he offered to drive her to McCloud, where she could get some help or arrange a cab home to Shasta City. She could leave the car and deal with it tomorrow, he told her. The rangers would wait a couple of days before they ticketed her for overnight parking. Would she mind, though, waiting a half hour while we swam?

She didn't say yes or no. She just smiled. She looked only at Billy. She was pretty far along, maybe seven and a half months. She stood there the way I've seen other pregnant women stand, with her feet pointing a little outward, for balance, I guess. We figured okay, so we dove into the water and fuck it was cold. And you couldn't warm up a little out of the water anymore because the sun was already farther down past the trees and the whole lake was in shadow. But as Billy said, that's when your body has no choice but to acclimate fast and become fishlike, no longer dependent upon the sun for survival but on the water itself, which is only, Billy said, as cold as your brain permits it to be. This load of total bullshit was weirdly right. Freak that he was, Billy sometimes made sense. And the more I swam around, the more I got, if not warm, something, yes, maybe a little fishlike, fishish. We didn't talk, Billy and me. We didn't touch. We just splashed around in our own worlds for a while because that's what you do if you're going to stay in that water at all. You've got to concentrate. Hard to imagine what we must have looked like to her. She wasn't a kid. We found out later she was thirty-two. It turned out there really was a boyfriend in Shasta, just no evidence that she'd tried to call him. Apparently, she didn't even own a cell phone. She was sort of a hippie that way, the boyfriend told the police later. She was against phones on principle.

She'd spread a blanket on the little patch of rocks that passed for a beach and watched us. That's what I remember and that's what I told them after, that she was just sitting on the rocks on a blanket, watching, holding her stomach in front of her like you might a large bowl. We may have ended up swimming more than a half hour. It could have been forty-five minutes. It might have been closer to an hour. Once we got going in the water, time was different. And a late-August day, even the shadows of it, drags on forever. Anything was possible. Maybe I'd finally fuck Billy. Maybe I finally wouldn't. He never pushed his case, though I know he ached, and sometimes his puny hard-on would win out against the cold and push against his shorts like a ruler. We were considered smarter kids, college bound. There weren't that many of us our year. Maybe I was thinking about Billy, about yes or no to Billy. Or maybe I was just breaststroking around, looking at the light, thick green and yellow, how it merged with the gray-blue lake water and made everything…the only word I can think of is radiant but that's not right. It's too loud. There was something stealthy about the light that didn't call attention to itself. It was glowing, but not in a showy way. We were still swimming, still trying to stay ahead of the cold, knowing that getting out would be worse because now there was hardly any sun at all behind the trees. So, all told, it probably was longer than a half hour.

We checked the Mazda, thinking maybe she was lying down in the backseat. Billy knocked on the door of the porta-potty. We didn't know her name, so we just shouted, politely, into the woods like we were calling for a teacher: "Excuse me, miss, we're ready to go now. Miss, we're ready to go! Sorry for the wait! Miss?"

Billy jogged up to the road to see if she was up there waiting to hitch a ride. She wasn't there, but that's what we figured, or Billy did, anyway, that she'd gone up to the road. The next day the boyfriend reported her missing, but the story wasn't in the Shasta and Redlands papers until two days later. That's when Billy and I went to the sheriff's office and told them what we knew, which wasn't much. We said we'd told her we'd give her a lift and she didn't wait. Her car was still in the parking lot. Teams searched the woods for three days running. Divers searched the lake. But the working theory has always been, and it's been almost eight years now, that she got tired of the waiting and ended up hitching a ride on Route 89.

My own small thought about the whole thing, for whatever it's worth and it's not worth much, since it won't help find her, wherever she is, is that when we got out of the water she was still there, still at Fowlers. That she was somewhere on the edge of the woods, looking at us, hearing us call for her, but for some reason not answering. I never mentioned it at the time because what good would it have done, since they were already searching the woods around the lake? What happened to her, I say, happened later. When Billy ran up to check the road, that's when I felt her eyes on me. I stood there in a bikini and cutoffs, teeth clacking, and I knew she was still in the woods watching me through the trees. Miss! We're ready to go! She'd been watching us swim. Maybe she noticed me toying with Billy? Maybe she envied the fact I could still toy? God knows maybe whatever made her refuse to answer had nothing directly to do with me. I've just never been able to shake the certainty that she would have done just about anything other than ride in a car with me to McCloud. Billy, yes; me, no. And maybe there's something to this. That one refusal may have led to another refusal and that whoever she accepted a ride from, if she accepted a ride at all, had no choice but to let her be and drop her somewhere. Somewhere—or a stop on her way somewhere—she'd always wanted to go, she just hadn't known it until she got that flat.

Tomales Bay (Emily)

From the kitchen window she watches the fog lift. She often wakes early and waits for it, this moment when the vague gray curtain rises and there it is, the bay and the mountains beyond. She always feels, as she does now, exalted, but at the same time unworthy. She grew up in the Midwest, where beauty is filched in glimpses. As a kid, in winter, she'd walk down the street to the edge of the bluff and look out at the lake through the leafless trees. She'd watch how the waves would push the shards of ice forward, as if trying to unload the burden of them onto the beach. A kind of grace. Still, nothing like this. The bay, the mountains, this fog, thick and smoky. Behold thy beauty. All hers now, this view from the top of the ridge. But that didn't make it any less somebody else's dream, this house, this kitchen, this big window. She'd always considered it a kind of arrogance of the rich to imagine that there was one place on earth destined to be yours and only yours. Neil says they can move anytime. Say the word and we'll go, he says. And she knows that if she were to call his bluff he'd do it, he'd sell. For her, he'd sell anything. But then he'd drag this house around in his head. What would be the point? Why not stay?

Still, there was no getting around the fact that the Polaroids of his dead wife on the wall in the kitchen unsettled people. When her sister visited from Madison, she took Emily aside and asked, "Why don't you make him take those down?" She told her sister that she did it for his children. "You know, so they can still come home to home? You know what I mean?" This explanation was only half true, and she knew, of course, that the four grown-up kids, in their twenties and thirties, would certainly have understood if the pictures came down and were shoved into a drawer. And it wasn't as if Neil hadn't offered. A number of times, he'd offered. No, she'd actually demanded that the pictures stay up. She didn't expect her sister or anybody else to understand. She'd never spelled it out to anybody, including Neil, but there was something about being a permanent guest in her own house that felt right.

Last Thanksgiving, when the children had all come home (and one girlfriend, one husband, a couple of grandkids), she and Neil had made an enormous spread—homemade cranberry sauce, a small mountain of mashed potatoes, a turkey they'd slow-cooked for eleven hours—and everybody'd had a good time, and she'd felt not only tolerated, but welcomed, even loved. The following morning she'd slept late—not slept, stayed in bed with a magazine—because, again, this was the house they'd grown up in. She did want them to feel like they could come home. But when she had, at last, come down to the kitchen in her robe, the chattering, the jokes, the laughing, stopped immediately, only for a moment but enough to horrify them with embarrassment and remorse. They all spent the next hour or so trying to make up for it, forcing her into every reference. She'd searched in vain for a silent way to say, Please, please, I get it. There's no need. All your years here.

She'd stood there in the kitchen, gripping her coffee, pleading with them with her eyes, but they were too busy frantically including her to even notice her anymore. And yet there must have been something inside each of them, even if they didn't admit it to themselves (after all, didn't they want their father to be happy? after so much heartache, didn't he deserve to be happy?), that found it galling. She wasn't a whole lot older than Neil's oldest daughter, which didn't scandalize anybody, this was California, but there was no getting around the cold math. The house would be hers. Not soon, but soon enough. Their dead mother smiling on the wall. The photographs have faded over the years in the sunlight so that they've begun to look like X-rays. Didn't that ghost on the wall demand loyalty?

How could she blame them? How could anybody blame them?

An old boyfriend once told her that she had a way of using magnanimity as a weapon. That wasn't exactly a fair assessment at the time. She'd dumped the boyfriend soon after. Still, she'd been intrigued by the possibility and hadn't, ever since, put it past herself. That kindness itself can be wielded. That love itself—

She drinks her coffee and watches the light above the bay, now green, now pink. Neil will be up soon. They'll both sit here and look out the window together. Isn't this the way of it? You stray, you stumble; somehow you find yourself on a ridge? Was that why she told him to leave the photographs on the wall? Because she'd won a battle she hadn't known she was fighting?

Neil's retired. Now his job, with a tool belt and great aplomb, is fixing things around this ramble of a house. Her job? What does she do all day? She works from home, writes marketing copy. But she'd told the old busybody up here on the ridge, his beloved neighbor for decades, the one who told her how pleased she was to see such joy and light back in Neil's life, that she was working on a memoir in the shed.

"You know, Catherine lingered for years, it was beyond dreadful."

"Yes, I—"

"She died in the house, you know."

"Yes, Neil—"

"What's your book about, if you don't mind my asking?"

"I'd rather not say."

"I absolutely respect that."

"Thank you."

"Certain things one must keep to oneself."


Neil certainly found himself a young one. Says she's writing a book. Who's not? Who's not writing a book is what I'd like to know.

Out back there's an orchard that predates the house. It's August, and huge yellow apples, an ancient variety, one you could never hope to find in stores, have begun to drop off the gnarled trees.

Naked Man Hides

Everybody knows this. Sometimes you lose everything, including your clothes. I must have taken them off at some point after the crash. I can't remember. I must have felt hot. How else to explain why I took off all my clothes? Helene came to jail the next morning and showed me the paper, and we even laughed about it, at first. Above the fold: NAKED MAN HIDES AFTER CRASH. They'd never given anybody much of a reason to buy the Independent Journal before. I should get a cut of the sales. Helene said she hadn't come to bail me out this time. I said, "When have you ever?" That's when she started to cry. She wanted me to understand what I'd become, as if I didn't know it. She thought shoving a headline in my face would help me see in black and white what everybody else saw. Not just our kids, my parents, her parents, my sister, but everybody in San Rafael. You went to college to end up here? I told her if I had any shame left I'd yank it out of my throat and stuff it down again. Helene threw the paper on the floor and stood up and knocked on the little window to let the guard know she wanted out. She stooped, picked up the paper, and left. Maybe she'll paste the article in one of her scrapbooks.

They brought me back to the cell, and I sat there and trembled, for hours. It was hell, of course, but it's also a little like having the chills when you've got the flu. You're grateful because that seizing your body's doing helps keep you warm. I'd gone from so hot to so cold. Must have been hours sitting there. I remember at some point they tried to give me lunch. I couldn't look at the food. Same later on with a dinner tray. Before lights-out, they brought in two new guys. Because I'd been in there alone, I'd taken the single. These two got the bunk. They each took a long piss and went to bed. At eleven, they turn the lights down, not off completely, and I sat there in what passed for darkness. You know how your eyes adjust to the light there is. I looked across the cell, which was maybe seven by nine, and saw the two sleepers, both of them wrapped in white sheets up to their necks. The fat one was on the bottom. He was a stranger to me. I'd seen the skinny one around town. I was still shaking, but like I say some part of me almost half enjoyed it. There was a blanket I could have pulled around my shoulders, but I didn't. Amazing what our bodies are designed to take. Helene says I'm looking at five to six on a good day, if the judge got laid the night before and had some waffles for breakfast. Eight to ten, at least, if he didn't get much sleep and was suffering from an upset stomach. Possession of a controlled substance, driving under the influence of said controlled substance, driving under the influence of another controlled substance, unlawful taking of a vehicle, reckless driving, fleeing the scene of an accident, indecent exposure, failure to follow a lawful order, resisting—

"It was your car, Hennie."

"How was I supposed to get to work? Who was going to pick up the kids? In what?"

But what I'm trying to say is that while I was watching those guys sleep, just two guys snoring, coughing, gurgling, moving around, changing positions, trying to get comfortable on those slack mattresses, I felt something, let's say, beyond my immediate predicament. My mother once took me and my sister Francie to a museum. We were in Chicago visiting cousins. An Egyptian museum. What it was doing in Chicago, who knows, but there were these mummies in glass cases and I remember how I pressed my nose against the glass and stared at the wrapped-up body of a woman and wondered what she'd make of me, some ten-year-old—what, almost two thousand years later?—snooping on her infinite sleep. My nostrils up against the glass. You know how it makes you look like a pig? I was doing that. Oink, oink. I wanted to get as close as I possibly could. I whispered hello to her head, to her old head wrapped in that yellowed burlap—was it burlap they used? Hello? Francie asked. Who are you talking to? And I said, Who do you think I'm talking to?

It was like that with these two guys. I was only trying to get close, to establish a little camaraderie across the chasm. Do I make any sense? Except with these two I didn't need to move toward them at all. My two fellow fuckups asleep in white sheets. I didn't need to move an inch. I swear, from my bunk, I stroked their faces without needing my hands. The skinny one had stubble. I felt it grow beneath my fingers. The fat one was clean-shaven, his face slicked with sweat. And I thought, Holy fuck, we're not dead. Together. As in not dead yet. Think of all the years we will be. Our bodies turn to caramel. You with the tiny sprouting tendrils of facial hair. You with the sweat-wet cheeks. Together at this moment, I thought—don't laugh at me, Hennie—we are not dead. You think this isn't a net positive?


The way a door gradually opens on a windless night when you're alone in a room. That's how she described how she came to understand, to know slowly but all at once, that he wanted her, that the last thing he wanted was to want her, but he wanted her, my God did he want her. He was a journalist and critic of some renown. Nobody reads him anymore. She said that for a number of years he'd been gradually losing his sight. It was almost completely gone by the time she met him. He'd put the word out that he needed someone to take dictation. He'd promised his publisher a last book about growing up poor in India. The aimless London years. The move to San Francisco in the late '50s. His improbable rise to relative fame as an unlikely chronicler of the counterculture. She told him he'd never intended to finish it, that the whole exercise was frivolous. He'd grown up poor, he said. That's novel? The mass of humanity lives a world away from a hot bath. Simone Weil, she knew the score.

He'd written, he told her, about flower children because they made him laugh. Spent my life trying to get clean and these kids can't get dirty enough.

He's long dead now. But she told me that, recently, while examining her face in the mirror, it was as if she caught a glimpse of his opaque brown eyes.

They'd meet at the Mechanics' Institute on Post Street, in his little office down the hall from the chess room and the silent chess players. A table, stacks of oilskin typing paper. That paper, she told me, smelled like new soap. His half-empty bookshelf. He was always giving her his books. The typewriter, its ink-stained keys. A curtainless room. The dust, how it was ever present, like tiny drops of dry rain in the stab of afternoon sunlight. She remembered how he listened to her when neither of them was speaking. Her feet shifting on the grainy, never-swept floor, her clicking tongue, what he called her girlish sniffles. When he was too tired to dictate, or, as he put it, spew, he'd ask her to read to him. Often it was Faulkner. He'd sit back in his chair and listen to her and let the great man lull him, sentences with so many clauses they'd climb the walls. Occasionally he'd stop her.

See? He's your crazy drunken Uncle Billy until he's not. The sober truth was almost more than he could take. He was drunk when I met him. This was at the tail end of his folly in Hollywood. Not sloppy drunk, polite drunk, cordial but utterly off his crock. Lovely man. The interview was a bomb. He didn't tell me a thing. He just sucked his teeth and nodded. The only time he wasn't drunk was when he was working. Drinking was the only way he could turn off the sentences. He didn't tell me that. I must have read it in Blotner's biography. The only thing he said to me was, "Is it as hot as they say in New Delhi?" And I said, "Sir, I've never been to Delhi."

Go on, go on, please, and pardon my blather—

He'd done it while she was reading. Without leaning forward he'd reached across the table with one long arm and placed three nervous, twitching fingers on her clavicle. She told me she didn't need to react. He retreated like a startled crab. The feel of her skin, her bone, was shocking enough. She'd been wearing a low-cut V-neck blouse. How could he have known? He'd been prepared to meet only fabric, not skin. She'd stopped reading for a moment and watched him. This substantial man, this winner of prizes. He didn't attempt to explain himself. She'd let him dangle, her finger holding her place in Light in August. And now, she told me, all these years later, his minor prominence forgotten, his books long out of print, she imagined pulling him close, letting him do what he wanted, which couldn't have been much. Only to touch her. Is it always a choice between love and pity? Back then she'd felt neither. Is there nothing in between? His eyes, the way he didn't move his head, not because he couldn't see her but because he could. He saw her with everything he had left.

The Case Against Bobbie



  • "I'm getting a poignant shiver from the novella 'Walt Kaplan Is Broke,' which closes Peter Orner's terrific new story collection, Maggie Brown and Others, and features a coronary patient taking stock of his long, mostly happy marriage...There's a lot of affection in that story, and in all of Orner's characteristically generous work...In this collection of forty-four compressed stories, and one novella, about blue-collar men and women and lives that didn't quite pan out, Orner maintains his reputation as a master of the form."—Gregory Cowles, New York Times Book Review, Ten New Books We Recommend This Week
  • "It's been apparent since his first book, "Esther Stories" (2001), that Peter Orner was a major talent...His exacting prose casts an elegiac and autumnal glow...You know from the second you pick him up that he's the real deal. His sentences are lit from below, like a swimming pool, with a kind of resonant yearning that's impossible to fake...He has that gift (Keats saw it in Shakespeare) of "negative capability"--in part that passive yet electric ability to submerge himself in the thoughts and emotions of a wide range of humans...Orner can do anything."—Dwight Garner, New York Times
  • "There's a beautiful drifting quality to Maggie Brown and Others, a sense of being invited inside a roving, kaleidoscopic mind--reluctant to generalize, tender, astute, with an eye for both comedy and heartache--and adopting its rhythms as your own...'Lighted Windows' is the title of the collection's second section, but the phrase might apply to the whole book. Peter Orner is a wonderful guide, training our gaze from window to window, where we find reflections of ourselves even as we glimpse the inscrutable, captivating lives on the other side of the glass."—Elizabeth Graver, New York Times Book Review
  • "There are forty-four stories in this collection, and they are all marvels of concision and compassion. Pick it up. Trust me."—Bethanne Patrick, Washington Post
  • "Orner writes words that don't disappear . . . At the same time, these stories never seem confined to the pages on which they appear. Though set in different eras, going back to the '60s, as well as in different time zones, they float over and under each other, their recurring characters cutting across time and space . . . Maggie Brown & Others is so full of brilliant, reverberant lines--and cuttingly funny ones as well--that they are like critics' popcorn: You can't stop citing them . . . Writing doesn't get any better."—Lloyd Sachs, Chicago Tribune
  • "Orner writes with a combination of sincerity and self-awareness. He takes a subtle tone of empathy toward his characters' ambitions by acknowledging how simultaneously unremarkable and wrenching their lives feel...the book is in its totality most vividly reminiscent of Raymond Carver."—Antonia Hitchens, San Francisco Chronicle
  • "A master of flash fiction tosses Chekhov and Carver into a blender, adds a dash of Catskills wit, and serves up an effervescent cocktail conjuring sunset beach strolls and marriages on the rocks."—O, The Oprah Magazine, 10 July Books You Won't Be Able to Put Down
  • "If you're going to pick up one short-story collection this summer, might we suggest Maggie Brown?"—Entertainment Weekly
  • "Orner is a master of the aphoristic short story. The forty-four concise and stinging tales in Maggie Brown & Others express a full spectrum of caustic observations, nuanced emotions, and life-warping predicaments...Orner writes with a heady blend of gravitas and wit similar to that of such kindred short-story virtuosos as Deborah Eisenberg, Andre Dubus, and Gina Berriault, while expressing his own edgy empathy and embrace of everyday absurdity."—Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
  • "Orner has a sharp eye for absurdity and a discerning ear for dialogue...Insightful, rueful, and often humorous, this collection holds a mirror to contemporary life and gives the reader much to reflect on."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • "This collection's forty-four powerful tales express Orner's talent for crafting captivating character sketches that read like memoirs...Readers will sympathize with Orner's characters and identify with their all-too-human frailties."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • "Orner is secretly one of the best contemporary writers working today: his characters are indelible, his focus small and piercing, his insights moving...all with his special sense for truth, character, and wistful realism."—Literary Hub
  • Peter Orner has the unique ability to invent fully-formed, vibrant characters within the shortest of stories...Orner's characters are unapologetic and complex, holding guilt, fear, and love...Orner presents the character's entire inner world--and it's all don in just a few pages...he builds these stories carefully--full of nuance and a special kind of lightness--and hands them to us on an assorted platter"—Jeevika Verma, Ploughshares
  • "The stories in Peter Orner's Maggie Brown & Others feel eternally human, less like they've been written and rather like they've been drawn by patient hands from an ancient aquifer of memory, longing, and soulful knowing."—Adam Johnson, author of Pulitzer Prize winner The Orphan Master's Son and National Book Award winner Fortune Smiles
  • "Orner writes simultaneously heartbreaking and witty stories."—AV Club
  • "It's unusual for a writer of such great detail and originality to still have so much heart on his sleeve. I didn't realize how I'd missed actual feeling in our celebrated younger writers until I fell onto Peter Orner and these sublime new stories. I may not go back."—Thomas McGuane, author of Gallatin Canyon
  • "Peter Orner is an extraordinary writer, and Maggie Brown & Others was a deep pleasure to read. His stories teem with life and energy, and unfold with a kind of soulful grace he has made all his own."—Adam Haslett, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Imagine Me Gone
  • "No one captures the inner lives of vanished places and people like Peter Orner. Radiant, funny, full of wisdom and heart, his vibrant portraits pulse with authentic energy and are as perfectly tuned to his characters' idiosyncratic speech as those of Grace Paley."—Andrea Barrett, National Book Award-winning author of Ship Fever and The Air We Breathe
  • "To read Peter Orner's stories is to live simultaneously in so many lives: the reader's memories intertwine with the characters', the characters' dreams resurface in the reader's. People we have loved and lost, people we have encountered and missed -- they wait for us to rediscover them in Orner's stories. This book, exquisitely written, is as necessary and expansive as life."—Yiyun Li, author of Where Reasons End and A Thousand Years of Good Prayers

On Sale
Jul 2, 2019
Page Count
336 pages

Peter Orner

About the Author

Peter Orner, a two-time recipient of the Pushcart Prize, is the author of five previous books, including the novel Love and Shame and Love and the collection Esther Stories, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. His memoir Am I Alone Here? was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His fiction has appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Tin House, and Granta, and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories. The recipient of the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Fullbright to Namibia, Orner holds the Darmouth Professorship of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College.

Learn more about this author