Down Along the Piney
210 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Paperback | 9780268104061 | September 2018
eBook | 9780268104078 | September 2018
Hardcover | 9780268104054 | September 2018
eBook | 9780268104085 | September 2018
Down Along the Piney is John Mort’s fourth short-story collection and winner of the Richard Sullivan Prize in Short Fiction. With settings in Florida, California, Mexico, Chicago, the Texas Panhandle, and, of course, the Ozarks themselves, these thirteen stories portray the unsung, amusing, brutal, forever hopeful lives of ordinary people. Mort chronicles the struggles of "flyover" people who live not just in the Midwest, but anywhere you can find a farm, small town, or river winding through forested hills. Mort, whose earlier stories have appeared in the New Yorker, GQ, and The Chicago Tribune, is the author of the award-winning Vietnam War novel Soldier in Paradise, as well as Goat Boy of the Ozarks and The Illegal. These ironic, unflaggingly honest stories will remind the reader of Jim Harrison, Sherwood Anderson, and Shirley Jackson.
John Mort's first novel, Soldier in Paradise, won the W. Y. Boyd Award for best military fiction. He has published seven other books, including the story collections Tanks, The Walnut King, and Dont Mean Nothin: Vietnam War Stories. John Mort served in Vietnam with the First Cavalry and afterwards attended the University of Iowa, receiving MFA and MLS degrees. He is a member of the Western Writers of America and in 2013 won a Spur Award for his short story, "The Hog Whisperer," included in this volume. He lives in southern Missouri where he raises vegetables and fruit.
"A new collection by John Mort is always a cause for celebration. Down Along the Piney solidifies his career as one of our most reliable raconteurs of the Ozarks. Anchored in the fictional town of Mountain Vale and the very real Piney River, Mort’s humble and imperfect characters may wander up to Kansas or further south, but the blue-green hills remain in their blood. Mort’s trademark strengths are everywhere in evidence: the confident and fast-paced story-telling, the spot-on dialogue, the sly humor. I’ve always admired how efficiently he enters a story, but this time round it is his graceful exits that impressed. This is a marvelous collection, without an ounce of dross." ~Catherine Browder, author of Now We Can All Go Home: Three Novellas in Homage to Chekhov
"In the Ozarks of this book, there are few jobs. Industrial farming killed all the family farms, meth addiction has destroyed communities, and many people are ready to succumb to any savior they can afford, whether it be God, drugs, alcohol, or books. . . . Honest and sometimes hopeless, these stories offer haunting perspectives on poverty, post-military life, and American masculinity" ~Foreword Reviews
"John Mort writes about the Midwest and South, but his stories are universal. Down Along the Piney is filled with memorable, believable characters and prose that grabs you from the first word to the last." ~Johnny D. Boggs, author of Greasy Grass: A Story of the Little Big Horn
“John Mort’s gritty, gorgeous collection stands as something exquisite and lush in the desert of America’s failed attempts at intimacy. In a series of very powerful, spare, and loving stories his vision resonates, thunders, and crafts lightning from the sky. I won’t soon forget the words one of his fiercely wrought people speaks: ‘The world was so full of cruelty that a little kindness was more powerful than the unleashed atom.’” ~Shann Ray, author of Atomic Theory 432 and American Masculine
"John Mort's Down Along the Piney captures an enormous range of characters in its collection of stories: misfits, idealists, war-scarred veterans, dream-drenched teenagers, holy fools, garden-variety fools, and ordinary people simply trying to get through the day. The stories take place anywhere from Missouri to Mexico, but the Ozarks are woven into all of them. Expatriates dream of returning, natives imagine fleeing, travelers find themselves permanently changed. This is not the Ozarks of cornpone mythology or gothic crime fiction, but a truer and more haunted place, one that could only have been depicted by someone with deep sympathies and an exacting eye. These stories pin you down and do not let up." ~Steve Wiegenstein, author of Slant of Light: A Novel of Utopian Dreams and Civil War
"I’ve been a fan of John Mort’s short fiction since I was bowled over by his collection Tanks in the mid-eighties. Down Along the Piney stands with the best work he’s done—and that’s saying something as John Mort is a master of the short story. These spare, evocative tales contain razor-sharp dialogue, intriguing plots, and memorable characters. Highly recommended." ~Marc Leepson, arts editor, The VVA Veteran
"In his return to the short form, Vietnam veteran John Mort delivers 13 stories about everyday Americans looking for love, acceptance, and a place to call home. . . . Mort’s understated, funny, and deeply moving collection illustrates the entangled decisions behind escaping or embracing small-town life in the South—a world of guns, big storms, and living off the land." ~Booklist