At the heart of every story in Audrey Whitson’s collection is a character seeking personal purpose amongst the deep mysteries of self, and a wholeness amid the fractious nature of life. Whitson’s evocative narration guides us effortlessly through these often turbulent journeys, seamlessly taking in a vast range of time and place along the way. An admirable authenticity of voice lends an intimacy and honesty to her carefully constructed tales.
The vividly depicted Mexican terrain and culture of “The Land Within” permeates a conflicted young woman and helps her to uncover her true self; “The Parts of a Man That Can Be Held Together” features a devout Catholic desperately struggling to resolve religious identity with sexual orientation. “The Water Witcher” shows Christianity and white magic making surprisingly comfortable partners while widening the worldly understanding of a young Albertan farm girl.
Whitson’s respect for her characters and gift for depicting a world enriched by diversity of beliefs, combined with a unique spiritual edge, creates a book alluringly imbued with significance, unveiled secrets, and mysterious events.
“Engrossing and searching. These stories deal with the mysteries at the heart of childhood, family, and life. Audrey Whitson is a writer to watch.” — Mary Borsky, author of Influence of the Moon and Cobalt Blue.
“Each place is vividly captured, grounded in the earth, from black loam to red dust, but it is in illuminating the land within that Whitson excels.” — Caterina Edwards, author of Homeground
About the Author
Audrey Whitson’s short fiction has appeared in Alberta Views, the Canadian Journal of Prairie Literature, Confluence, FreeFall, and Room Magazine. Her first book, Teaching Places (Wilfred Laurier University Press 2003), a memoir about how the land teaches, was shortlisted for three awards. Her poetry and essays have been published in many magazines and anthologies and have won awards.
Audrey grew up on a farm in northern Alberta and has worked as a social worker, consulting and teaching theologian, editor and project manager. In the 1980s she spent almost five years in the San Francisco Bay Area, working with Mexican migrant workers and Central American refugees as well as studying feminist and liberation theology at the Graduate Theological Union (and Franciscan School of Theology) at Berkeley.
These stories about girls and women display a range of storytelling. Stylistically the stories vary with their emotional impact but throughout them all is the steady, careful pulse of Whitson’s prose often characterized by first person narration and well-researched local colour. Although a straight-ahead storyteller, her use of first-person creates an intimacy that has the reader leaning in to hear the narrators’ secrets and to bear witness to their search for personal meaning. Whether the story is told from the point of view of a small child growing up on an Alberta farm, or a young middle-class woman living in California’s saturated culture, there is an undeniable authenticity of voice that is at once intimate and honest. Evocative in her landscape details and insightful in her psychological renderings, Whitson is fully in control of her character’s spiritual journeys as she is awed by the forces that shape them.