Cover Art: "The Lawless River" by Krista Graham (link)
“Everything Blooms,” the title of one of the stories in Shaun Turner’s new chapbook The Lawless River, is also an inadvertent commentary on the writing in this richly textured, exquisite fiction collection about growth, destruction, and renewal in small town America. Turner’s prose begs to be devoured, as he casts the eastern Kentucky foothills and the Rockcastle River as characters both beautiful and brutal, their harvests and creatures as alive as Turner’s human protagonists. The Lawless River lifts us out of ourselves and throws us headlong into the marrow of Kentucky life, with its courageous and damaged inhabitants in whose dreams we invest and whose tragedies we mourn. Here pumpkins, pickup trucks, cornfields, and campers reflect all of our truths. When Turner is done with us, we are all from Kentucky."
—Amy Strauss Friedman
More Words About The Lawless River
Snakes, a marauding bear, a gigantic pumpkin—in Shaun Turner's exquisite chapbook, they throw his protagonists into startling and revealing light. This is a book grounded in Kentucky—its landscapes, its people, its language—but its themes of love and loss are universal. Shaun Turner is a young writer to keep an eye on in the future—and to read now.
—Mark Brazaitis, author of The Incurables: Stories (University of Notre Dame Press)
Shaun Turner knows how to name the world with precision and generosity and the hard-won ferocity of the true observer. His words carry the weight of bone and blood and mud. Every sentence blooms in its own right, until the people and the places they inhabit become real, become us.
—Glenn Taylor, author of A Hanging at Cinder Bottom (Tin House Books July 2015)
In the nine shorts that comprise Turner’s debut collection, we’re treated to a lively look at his native Kentucky. Setting comes to life in these stories as we tour a land where folk are as likely to pass the time waiting to capture a snake in a noose as they are to be caught up in a great flooding river. Readers, similarly, will find themselves ensnared by Turner’s gorgeously simple prose, wanting to inhabit these small towns, rural creeks, pumpkin growing contests, and church revivals for as long as possible.
—Evan Kingston, fiction editor at Red Bird Chapbooks and author of Slash, a serial literary thriller