THE BOOK: A Way Out of Nowhere: Stories
PUBLISHED IN: 2018
THE AUTHOR: Nancy Gerber
THE EDITOR: Robin Stratton
PUBLISHER: Big Table Publishing
SUMMARY: A collection of nine stories exploring the rites of passage of being female: a college student coping with date rape, a young woman discovering her sexuality, a new mother grappling with postpartum depression, an unhappy teenager developing a surprising friendship with an elderly woman patient in a nursing home. The protagonists oscillate between isolation and connection as they struggle to find meaning in environments that are often hostile or dangerous.
THE BACK STORY: Various ideas for short stories had been swimming around in my mind for the past few years. I’d always seen myself as a nonfiction writer, having previously published a memoir about my father and his catastrophic stroke. I wasn’t sure if I could write fiction. Ultimately I decided to follow Raymond Carver’s advice: write one sentence, then write the next. It sounds simple, but of course it’s not easy to do. Nevertheless, by the time I’d written the first two or three pages of that first story, I began to see the arc of the narrative, to better understand the characters and what I hoped to convey. Then there’s the next step: revise, revise, revise. Ultimately I was drawn into the process of exploring various aspects of women’s experience, continuing with more stories until I had enough for this book.
WHY THIS TITLE: The title refers to a quote by one of the characters in the first story, “A Way Out of Nowhere,” for which the collection is named. The character, a Viet Nam veteran who has returned to college and suffers from PTSD, says, “I feel like I’m nowhere and there’s no way out.” I wanted to write about the way fictional characters navigate difficult circumstances. Did they create their current situation, or did it choose them? How do they respond to challenges they were not anticipating? Do they find a way out of their difficulties, and if so, how?
WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: I’m especially drawn to stories that represent characters’ complex interiority and internal conflict. Someone who likes that kind of writing will enjoy my book. I include a blurb from the back cover: “These characters come to life and become a community of young people trying to figure out how to listen to themselves and who to approach or avoid. The surprises they find are moving and provocative. A deep and satisfying book.” — Frances Bartkowski, An Afterlife; Former Chair, Department of English, Rutgers University-Newark.
REVIEW COMMENTS: “Nancy Gerber writes with authority, both with regard to her subject matter and with reference to her writing skill. These stories are commendable for their revelations and are well worth reading.”
— Carole Mertz, Mom Egg Review
AUTHOR PROFILE: I started to write essays and creative nonfiction in my late 30’s, though I began my writing career at the auspicious age of seven, when my second grade teacher told me to write stories and read them aloud to the class as a way to channel my disruptive energy. By the time I got to high school, I lost confidence in my ability to write. I pursued a Ph.D. in English because reading was always as important to me as writing, and in graduate school I read, a lot. But scholarly writing did not satisfy my wish to explore creative forms, and then my father became very ill. Suddenly I had a subject and the desire to give it form and shape. The memoir about my father was my first non-academic book. More information about me and the books I’ve written is available on my website: nancygerber.net.
SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Amazon link)
WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Big Table website
PRICE: $15.00 paperback
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: firstname.lastname@example.org