- ISBN-13: 9781881471172
- Publisher: Spuyten Duyvil
- Publication date: 9/1/2012
- Pages: 288
ON ASHES RAIN DOWN
- There is a sense of shared destiny in the mountain community of Sluggards Creek in a future that seems more like a return to the past. Shared crisis creates a tissue of interconnection as characters hang on by a thread: no food in the stores, no electricity, civil disorder. Stories mostly share the same characters and locales, so it is both a story collection and something of a novel. The deaths of loved ones in The Forever War and from disease and natural disaster reverberate in the putative death of the earth. Each story presents some new crisis; collective troubles are reflected in individual troubles as holocaust in the outside world engenders personal holocaust. But, in the end, the stories are about people dealing with personal conflicts and the vagaries of their lives, with the larger environmental issues providing a dramatic backdrop against which those lives play out.Challenged by unforseen predicaments, characters must rely on their wits and on strengths they didn’t know they had to hold on in the face of disaster–plagues of flies, exotic diseases, fire and wind storms, drought followed by ceaseless rains…the world coming undone. Although there is a sense of impending doom here, there is also much dark humor and a zany spice of grotesque realism.In the title story, “Ashes Rain Down,” fires burn all sides as Lawr Connery drives the lesbian couple Margie and Carlie to Oregon along nearly impassable highways to bury Carlie’s dead mother and confront family dysfunction and a brother who hates her. To free herself from the past’s conflagrations, Carlie sets the house she has inherited ablaze with her mother’s body inside it. A plague of biting flies brings an infestation of hatred to Sluggard’s Creek in “Fly-bitten.” Living alone in an isolated old farm house in the desert beyond the mountains, Dee has unexpected visitors in “Out There.” A salt pine falls on her house, then a family of drifting marauders invades it, stealing her stash of supplies. She befriends the boy Lester, who is abused by his Charlie Manson look-alike father, Alf. We revisit Lester’s “wanderer” family in “Family Life,” encamped in an abandoned suburban development in Bakersfield next door to his aunt’s house. His father, Alf, takes up with his sister-in-law whose husband has died in The Forever War. When his wife confronts him, Alf attacks her, and Lester defends his mother, incredulous at summoning the courage to stand up to his bullying “pops.”Buy The Book:
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Powell’s BooksAuthor Biography:William Luvaas has published two novels, The Seductions of Natalie Bach (Little, Brown) and Going Under (Putnam), and a story collection, A Working Man's Apocrypha (Oklahoma Univ. Press). He has edited an anthology, Into The Deep End: The Writing Center Anthology 3. His new collection is Ashes Rain Down: a story cycle from Spuyten Duyvil Press. The Seductions of Natalie Bach was nominated for The National Book Award and the Pen/Faulkner Award. Going Under was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and A Working Man's Apocrypha was nominated for the 2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He is at work on a memoir: Wrestling with my Secret Self: A memoir of living with epilepsy.
Luvaas's short fiction (fifty stories), articles and essays have appeared widely, including in The American Literary Review, The American Fiction Anthology (vol. 9), Antioch Review, Blackbird, Carpe Articulum, Epiphany, Essays & Fictions, Glimmer Train, Grain Mag., Harper's Weekly, North American Review, Short Story, Stand Mag., The Sun, Texas Review, Thema, The Village Voice and The Washington Post Book World. He has been a contributing writer to The San Diego Reader, Cosmopolitan (Japanese edition), and The American College Testing Program. He is online fiction editor for Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts.'
His novels and stories focus on people coping with adversity under difficult circumstances. An apocalyptic wind often blows through his work. Glimmer Train Co-editor Linda Swanson-Davies says of his characters: "He manages to make such swerving and impossible lives feel utterly true...even normal."
Luvaas has received fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, the Ludwig Vogelstein and Edward Albee foundations. His story "Ashes Rain Down" won first place in Glimmer Train's Winter '08 Fiction Open Contest, "Family Life" won The Ledge Magazine's 2010 Fiction Competition, "The Firewood Wars" was co-winner of Fiction Network's 2nd National Fiction Competition, and "Out There" won Honorable Mention in Carpe Articulum's International Short Fiction Award Series. Ten of his stories have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. His wife's film of his story "A Working Man's Apocrypha" won Best Short Feature Film at the Delta International Film Festival in 2006.'
Raised in Eugene, Oregon, Luvaas graduated cum laude from the University of California, Berkeley, and was a student activist. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego State University. He was the first VISTA Volunteer in Alabama, working for civil rights and economic justice. As Fiction Coordinator for New York State Poets in Public Service, he served as writer-in-residence at dozens of schools, hospitals and juvenile detention facilities, including The United Nations International School and Bronx High School of Science. Luvaas has taught creative writing at San Diego State University and in the MFA Program at UC-Riverside, as well as at The Writer's Voice in New York and The UCLA Writing Program. He has also worked as a carpenter, pipe maker, window washer, and freelance journalist. Luvaas has lived in England, Israel, and Spain, and for a year in a primitive cabin he built in a giant stump in the Mendocino County redwoods. He now lives in Riverside County, California with his wife, Lucinda, a painter and film maker.