HALF WILD is a new collection of short stories by Robin MacArthur, a very promising young writer from Vermont. These are not glimpses of country life as seen in the glossy magazines. Life is hard and unforgiving for the people of the aging hill farms and woods. The flood-tilted house on the cover hints at the fates of those who have chosen to scratch out a life in a beautiful but harsh seclusion. Once back-to-the-land hippies are now aging parents who need the help of their adolescent children, while those kids are trying to make sense of their own lives in the face of the dubious choices of the previous generation. Broken down cars, old house trailers, dusty barns full of old tools, country music on pickup truck radios, oily chainsaws - the scenery of life. The real power in these stories is the depth of emotion and personality. Her characters are intimately alive and real. Here's your chance to discover a Vermont writer at the beginning of what I hope is a prolific career.— From Grant
“MacArthur's debut story collection is set in the hilly backcountry of southern Vermont -- a rural landscape of half-abandoned farms and double-wide trailers, but also one of immense natural beauty and wildness. Her characters hew close to this land -- even those who have left cannot help but return. These are beautifully drawn portraits of people who, despite poverty and decay, remain vibrantly alive to their world and to the power of memory. I cannot wait to read more from this author!”
— Peter Sherman (E), Wellesley Books, Wellesley, MA
"This heartbreakingly honest and authentic fiction will make you weep over, laugh at, and finally cheer for, mothers and daughters, sons and fathers, lovers and losers, and the human race in general. Half Wild is American fiction, and American literature, at its very best."--Howard Frank Mosher, author of The Great Northern Express and Northern Borders
Spanning nearly forty years, the stories in Robin MacArthur's formidable debut give voice to the dreams, hungers, and fears of a diverse cast of Vermonters--adolescent girls, aging hippies, hardscrabble farmers, disconnected women, and solitary men. Straddling the border between civilization and the wild, they all struggle to make sense of their loneliness and longings in the stark and often isolating enclaves they call home--golden fields and white-veiled woods, dilapidated farmhouses and makeshift trailers, icy rivers and still lakes rouse the imagination, tether the heart, and inhabit the soul.
In "Creek Dippers," a teenage girl vows to escape the fate that has trapped her eccentric mother. In "God's Country," an elderly woman is unexpectedly reminded of a forbidden youthful passion and the chance she did not take. Returning to her childhood house when her mother falls ill, a daughter grapples with her own sense of belonging in "The Women Where I'm From."
With striking prose powerful in its clarity and purity, MacArthur effortlessly renders characters--men and women, young and old--cleaved to the fierce and beautiful land that has defined them.