Review of Prairie Fever in Publisher's Weekly

Parker (The Watery Part of the World) transports readers to the 19th-century Oklahoma frontier in this lovely story about the bond between two sisters. Elise and Lorena are inseparable, sharing everything as they come of age with absent and distracted parents in a small town. Elise is flighty and clever, always daydreaming and coming up with adventure stories that take them away from Oklahoma. Sixteen-year-old Lorena is intelligent and practical, keeping her younger sister’s education on track. But Lorena is almost finished with school and dreaming of her future, making Elise nervous that she will be left behind. Then Gus McQueen becomes the teacher at their rural school, and the girls are torn apart when both fall in love with him. After Gus proposes to Elise, the sisters go their separate ways: Lorena to college in Wyoming, Elise to Texas with Gus. During the novel’s second half, much of the narrative is delivered through correspondence between the sisters, revealing their regrets, mutual love, and longing for a different future. It’s only with time and forgiveness, slowly won through their letters, that the sisters reaffirm the bonds of their family. In the tradition of Katherine Ann Porter, Parker’s exceptional tale explores the power and strength of kinship on the harsh American frontier. (May)

Booklist Review for 'Prairie Fever'

A Booklist starred review of ‘Prairie Fever’, coming May 2019 from Algonguin Books

Two sisters in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Oklahoma brave "coyote winds" to attend a country school, taught by a young man barely older and scarcely more educated than they are. Lorena is pretty and practical while Elise is dreamy and dramatic. They ride to school, blanket-bundled together, on their black horse, to whom Elise ascribes magical powers. On their snowy rides, they discuss their teacher, Gus McQueen, and argue about local incidents. After all, what else is there to do in this bleak and barren place? One argument propels Elise to seek answers in a blizzard, which maims her and threatens Lorena's and Gus’ lives as well. Elise's rash action foments a chain of events that makes the teacher abruptly choose her over Lorena, and creates a decades-lasting rift between the sisters. As an older woman, Elise admits that she always knew the truths behind the romantic attributions she lent to her world. Parker's (The Watery Part of the World, 2011) chimerical slipstream of a novel asks, Is it better to hew to that which is, or to see the world as you wish? Readers will surely be pulled deep into the strange and wild river of Elise's fanciful peregrinations.

— Joan Curbow

Upcoming Readings for Everything, Then and Since

NC and TX friends--I'm doing some readings for my new book of stories, starting in NC on November 12th. Here's the lineup:

November 12, Letters Books, Durham (Launch! Takeoff!)
November 14, Scuppernong Books, Greensboro
November 15, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill
November 16, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh

On Sunday December 3rd, I'm reading with Conor Bracken and Karen Davidson at Malvern Books in Austin.

More info as the time comes nigh. Hope to see some of you at one or the other of these fine establishments.

The Paris Review

Read a new review of Everything, Then and Since in The Paris Review:

In the concise stories that make up Everything, Then and Since, Michael Parker creates worlds that are defined as much by what they exclude as by what they include. Though Parker’s collection is a slim ninety-seven pages, it includes twenty-three stories of impressive variety and emotional complexity. Parker often writes of life on the margins in the South, and some of the best moments come when those margins are brushed by global tragedy, as in “Typingpool” and “Beamon’s Woods,” which are both ultimately about the enduring pain of World War II. The stories range from six pages to the 186-word “Hold On,” an exemplar of the collection. Every word holds particular weight; much is asked of every descriptor. The narrator of “Hold On” gives a recliner-ridden old woman (his mother? his patient?) her first-ever television with a remote: “She held onto that clicker as if it were her first ever doll baby, carved from a corncob by her daddy before the dust kicked up and blew them out of the Panhandle.” Much is told to the reader; much is left for the reader to tell themselves. Indeed, that’s the accomplishment of these stories: they pack a great deal into the pages given to them, and then ask the reader to take it further. They challenge and expand the reader’s imagination, as all good stories ought to do. —Joel Pinckney

Upcoming publications and readings

Howdy, friends. Just wanted to let you know I have new fiction forthcoming in Cut Bank, Inch, Five Points, Cincinnati Review, Oxford American, New England Review, and the North Carolina Literary Review. I'll be reading at AWP in DC this Friday afternoon at 3 with my UNCG colleagues and friends Terry Kennedy and Stuart Dischell. Thanks and hope to see you soon.

- Michael