True Places Never Are: Stories
Cate McGowan’s debut story collection, True Places Never Are (Moon City Press), winner of the Moon City Press Short Fiction Award and a finalist for the Lascaux Review Short Fiction Collection Contest, introduces us to an assortment of unforgettable characters on a voyage through loss and salvation.
McGowan’s book title borrows from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, or the Whale: “It is not down in any map; true places never are.” The characters who populate these stories venture into wondrous worlds as knotty and distressing as the locales where they live and love.
Blue, with his frenetic need to paint, longs for what might be a mermaid with narcolepsy. Tara and David, floating between childhood and adulthood, intertwine languidly on the cusp of . . . something. Violet Gray Witherspoon, a name of nouns, spills yearning verbs onto secret pages. Jebediah dances with sacrifice, then freedom. Superheroes emerge in unlikely places. Rats expose themselves in the prison yard. A crop of immigrant birds wings its way across a new homeland.
McGowan’s stories will pull you into the picture, close enough to taste the paint fresh upon the canvas. This book will take you to places you never dreamed you'd visit, but you won't regret the journey. Fasten your seat belt for a memorable ride.
praise for True Places Never Are
“As I read these remarkable stories, I fell headlong for Cate McGowan’s tender, fierce, and deliciously complicated characters. Gritty and gorgeous, True Places Never Are is an astonishing collection and McGowan is a one-of-a-kind talent.”
—Laura van den Berg, author of Third Hotel, Find Me, and The Isle of Youth
“Cate McGowan’s debut story collection, True Places Never Are, travels nimbly through geography and time, taking us through cities of the past and present via timeless rural towns. Here, we encounter the fullness of human existence distilled into moments of elemental violence, thwarted artistic ambition, and palpable yearning for true connection—with family, lovers, and the land.”
—Wendy Rawlings, author of The Agnostics
“Cate McGowan’s first collection of stories, True Places Never Are, is a virtuosity of language and storytelling suffused with grace and wisdom. Her range of narrative appears limitless, her vantage point sublime and sensuous, earthy yet etheric. Each story is jeweled and brutally rich with joy and sorrow. Possessed of an eye fierce for truth and a passionate empathy for the human condition, Cate McGowan gives us, in True Places Never Are, a stunning debut collection, a literary treasury of tragedy, honor and hope.”
—Melissa Pritchard, author of Palmerino and A Solemn Pleasure
“Cate McGowan’s writing is so succinct, so lovely and so full of emotion that the reader leaves the book hungry for more but also comforted by a sense of satisfied awe. These are stories of powerful resonance, exploring the human condition in all its beauty and ugliness and everything in between. True Places Never Are introduces us to a major new voice in American fiction.”
—Silas House, author of Clay’s Quilt, A Parchment of Leaves, and Eli the Good
“Whether she’s writing about a farm boy’s altercation with an irrigation machine, a female prisoner, or a fictional French Dadaist (in what is truly a tour de force), Cate McGowan’s stories have all of the ferocity and precision of her fellow Georgian, Flannery O’Connor; but McGowan is more compassionate. And more hip. I felt the same sense of excitement about the variety and heart in this collection as I did, many years ago, reading Jayne Anne Phillips’s Black Tickets. True Places Never Are is an impressive debut.”
—Robin Lippincott, author of Mr. Dalloway and In the Meantime
“This collection of stories lives up to its title, in that they take us deftly to true places we have never been, places that we get to know through cunning observation and beautiful prose. With Cate McGowan as our gracious and expert guide, showing us just what to look for, we come away enlightened and delighted for having made the journey to these places that feel both happily, and sometimes painfully, familiar. This book is armchair travel at its very, very best.”
—James Thomas, co-editor of New Sudden Fiction and Flash Fiction International