PRAISE FOR SOME BORE GIFTS:
A.G. Harmon is a writer of the first order. These are elegant and humble and ruminative stories of people reaching their worldly ends in one way or another, and their encounters there with grace and a hard-wrought hope. Some Bore Gifts is in itself a gift, and A.G. Harmon a writer who blesses us with his art.
— Bret Lott, author of Dead Low Tide
A.G. Harmon is that rare thing, a writer who loves his characters without idolizing them. In prose that is alternately crystalline and gritty, he shows how a heart in hiding can be brought back to life through a chance encounter with another.Some Bore Gifts are stories that track the movement from despair to hope, loss to restitution, the seemingly random steps we take along the road of grace. Harmon’s consummate storytelling makes us believe in, not only the resilience, but also the essential grandeur of the human spirit.
— Suzanne M. Wolfe, author of The Confessions of X
In these stories, Harmon takes you—lyrically, sometimes brusquely, always with good humor—through a gallery of lives. Some full and wise, others shallow and self-concerned, still others stunted or misunderstood—a stunning human spectrum. I laughed out loud, flipped pages in worry, even felt a knife slice through my palm. But most visceral—and this is Harmon’s gift—I felt myself disappear in moments of true, transcendent beauty.
— Samuel Thomas Martin, author of A Blessed Snarl
A.G. Harmon’s new collection of stories, Some Bore Gifts, is stunningly diverse, displaying a vast range of characters and the skill to draw them that enchants his reader. From the glimpse of a migrant worker as he begins his story, “the impression he left upon the listener was that of a tune hummed from a porch step, during the long liquid hours of the first, floating dusk,” to the voice of a wounded piano tuner who “leans into the memory, his gaze fastened to what he must see,” Harmon creates a span of characters—an aging movie star, a college English professor—and falls into none of the possible and dangerous pitfalls. Readers are, indeed, invited to listen on the front porch. Their reward is seeing the redemptive moment of understanding that Harmon’s characters discover.
— Margaret-Love Denman, author of Daily, Before Your Eyes
A.G. Harmon’s fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in Triquarterly, the Antioch Review, Shenandoah, the Bellingham Review, St. Katherine Review, Image, and Commonweal, among others. His fiction won the 2001 Peter Taylor Prize (A House All Stilled, University of Tennessee Press, 2002) and was the runner-up for the 2007 William Faulkner Prize for the Novel. His academic work, Eternal Bonds, True Contracts: Law and Nature in Shakespeare’s Problem Plays was published by SUNY Press. He was a 2003 Walter Dakin fellow at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He grew up on horse-and-cattle farms in Mississippi and Tennessee. Currently, he teaches at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at video game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived.
The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies' room, helplessly clutching her cell phone--until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art.
But one person wasn't satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait--and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.
Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.
Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.
At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.
But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.
In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska—a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.