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The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress

About This Book

“The stories in Michelle Richmond’s first collection spin artfully off the life of a single character…smart and adept…” — The New York Times

 “This collection has a novel’s heft…These lives are shaped by fate andplace, forces hauntingly evoked by this talented writer.” — The Boston Globe

“Remember this name: Michelle Richmond…impressive talent and emotional range…Richmond writes with grace, calm, a refreshing sense of playfulness.” — The San Francisco Chronicle

“Richmond’s writing is perceptive and heartfelt, her subjects at once edgy and familiar. This is a winning debut.” — Publishers Weekly, October 22, 2001

“An excellent read,…[a]well-written and thoroughly fascinating short-story cycle…Recommended for public libraries and for all academic collections supporting the study of fiction writing.” — Choice, May 2002

A series of locations both familiar and exotic make up the seventeen linked stories in this award-winning debut collection. Whether leaving, returning, or staying put, the women who narrate these stories are bound to Alabama by history and habit, their voices informed by the landscape and lore of the deep South.

In “Down the Shore Everything’s All Right,” twenty-eight-year-old Grace abandons wide Southern beaches for New York sidewalks, only to discover that the Gulf Coast still has a hold on her. In “Intermittent Waves of Unusual Size and Force,” a wayward father is called home from California by a massive hurricane that threatens the lives of his family. In “The World’s Greatest Pants,” three younger sisters watch in awe as Darlene, the eldest and bravest, defies her parents and heads for Texas in a battered El Camino.

An undercurrent of eroticism runs through the collection. “Propaganda” finds the youngest sister alone in an old house in Knoxville, where she forms a symbiotic relationship with a mysterious upstairs neighbor during her husband’s lengthy absence. In “Fifth Grade: A Criminal History,” adolescence and sexuality merge with explosive consequences.

The divine and the absurd are uneasy but frequent bedfellows in these stories. “O-lama-lama” portrays a religious free-for-all at a beachside church in Fairhope, Alabama, while “Slacabamorinico” celebrates the holy commotion of Mardi Gras at a Mobile cemetery. In “The Last Bad Thing,” a love-struck young woman in the Bible Belt is haunted by visions of Ramadan.

A valuable resource for students of short fiction, this collection will also delight fans of Richmond’s later books: The Year of Fog, No One You Know, and Dream of the Blue Room.