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Winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction, 2004. In the nine stories of Let's Do, various calamities strike ordinary Midwesterners, who cope with a mixture of good intentions and ineptitude. Balancing humor with painful clarity, author Rebecca Meacham pulls readers into the lives of characters who struggle with--and more often against--change.
You have to read closely so as not to miss significant clues in these tightly coiled stories by Katherine Anne Porter Prize-winner Johnston (Never So Green), who ventures deeply into the consciousness of Midwesterners to unearth old tensions and buried animosities. In Water, he balances a marvelously multilayered plot involving a widowed mother of now grown twin boys (one healthy, one not) who recognizes how her protectiveness of her sons--even if one commits a horrible crime--supersedes the ties she holds to her past. Dirt Men finds Buddy Jr., the son of a local excavating entrepreneur, returned home in disgrace from the Colorado college where he was teaching and trapped within the intersection of his past and his hubris when the dismembered body of a woman is found in an auto salvage lot. In Things Go Missing, Johnston enters the mind of a young woman burglar whose seemingly senseless thefts (such as her shrink's autographed Michael Jordan poster) allows her to connect finally with someone, despite the pain she inflicts. These beautifully rendered tales deliver an emotional wallop.
Winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction, 2012. The short stories in this rich debut collection embody in their complexity Alice Munro's description of the short story as "a world seen in a quick, glancing light." In chiseled and elegant prose, Lieberman conjures wildly disparate worlds. A middle aged window washer, mourning his wife and an estranged daughter, begins to grow attached to a young woman he sees through the glass; a writer, against his better judgment, pursues a new relationship with a femme fatale who years ago broke his heart; and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor struggles with the delicate decision of whether to finally ask her aging mother how it was that she survived. It is all here--the exigencies of love, of lust, the raw, unlit terrain of grief. Whether plumbing the darker depths or casting a humorous eye on a doomed relationship, these stories never force a choice between tragedy and redemption, but rather invite us into the private moments and crucibles of lives as hungry and flawed as our own.
The stories in The Expense of a View explore the psyches of characters under extreme duress. In the title story, a woman who has moved across the country in an attempt to leave her past behind dumps an empty suitcase into the Columbia River over and over again. In another story, a woman who wakes up mornings only to discover she's been shooting heroin in a night trance, meets her doppelganger on a rainy Oregon beach. Most of the characters are displaced and disturbed; they suffer from dissociative disorders, denial, and delusions. The settings—Florida, eastern Washington, Seattle, and the Oregon coast—mirror their lunacies. While refusing to look at what’s right in front of themselves might destroy them, it’s equally likely to be just what they need.
Drawing from fairy tales, ghost stories, and science-fiction, the stories in ActivAmerica explore how we confront (and exert) power and re-imagine ourselves through sports and athletic activities. A group of girls starts an illicit hockey league in a conservative suburb. A recently separated woman must run a mile a day in order to maintain her new corporate health insurance. Children impacted by environmental disaster create a “mutant soccer team.” Two sisters are visited by an Olympic gymnast who demands increasingly dangerous moves from them. Sports allow the characters to form communities on soccer fields and hidden lakes, in overgrown backyards and across Ping-Pong tables. Throughout the collection, however, athletic risk also comes with unexpected, often unsettling results.
Winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction, 2008. Most of the nine stories in Last Known Position were written upon James Mathews' return from combat deployment to the Middle East with the D.C. Air National Guard. Life under fire provided the author with both dramatic events and a heightened sense of observation, allowing him to suggest the stress of combat as the driving factor behind extreme yet believable characterization and action. Military experiences and settings cause certain human elements and truisms to emerge more profoundly and dramatically. These stories portray desperate characters driven to make desperate choices. Always on the edge of a dark and unpleasant reality, Mathews' characters survive by embracing fantasy, humor, violence, and sometimes redemption. Each story bears its own brand of hopeless quirkiness. Four teenagers on an army base steal a grenade and are stalked by a parade horse. A drifter returns home to rob the grandparents who raised him. A national guardsman faces a homicidal superior officer in Iraq on the eve of war. An elderly man worries that his wife's new house guests are unrepentant cannibals. Always tense, sometimes ridiculous, and never dull, Last Known Position brings the reader to places unknown before and unforgettable after.
This volume brings together 29 pieces dating from before 1932, none of which appear in her collected works and many of which are published here for the first time. Includes both fiction and essays.

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