The Algonquin Reader by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill - Read Online

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Dear Reader

An Essay by Gina Wohlsdorf

An Excerpt from Security by Gina Wohlsdorf

An Essay by Larry Watson

An Excerpt from As Good as Gone by Larry Watson

An Essay by Kaitlyn Greenidge

An Excerpt from We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge

An Essay by Sean Beaudoin

An Excerpt from Welcome Thieves by Sean Beaudoin

An Essay by Robert Morgan

An Excerpt from Chasing the North Star by Robert Morgan

An Essay by Elizabeth J. Church

An Excerpt from The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church

About the Cover Art

Dear Reader,

In this issue of the Algonquin Reader, our Spring 2016 fiction writers reveal the inspirations behind their forthcoming books, from one author’s near-death experience to another’s surprising family history. The seeds of their stories are so rich that it’s no wonder they flourished into complex and compelling fiction. A short excerpt from the novel or collection of stories follows each writer’s original essay.

Security, Gina Wohlsdorf’s hair-raising debut, takes place just before the luxurious Manderley Resort’s grand opening. No expense has been spared to develop the hotel’s top-secret, high-tech security system. But the terrible truth about Manderley is that someone is always watching. Riveting to the final sentence, Security is fierce, wry, and presaged by Sandra Brown to be 2016’s The Girl on the Train.

Calvin Sidey, the protagonist of bestselling author Larry Watson’s novel As Good as Gone, is a true Montana cowboy. When his adult son asks Calvin to stay with his grandchildren for a week, Calvin reluctantly agrees. But as problems arise, Calvin only knows one way to solve them: the Old West way, in which ultimatums are issued and your gun is always loaded. Though As Good as Gone is Watson’s tenth novel, it marks his first appearance on an Algonquin list, and we couldn’t be happier.

In Kaitlyn Greenidge’s provocative novel, We Love You, Charlie Freeman, a black family moves from Boston to a nearly all-white town in the Berkshires. A research institute has contracted the Freeman family to teach sign language to a chimpanzee named Charlie. Hailed by Colum McCann as brilliant and by Bill Cheng as an important debut from an important writer, this novel is a piercing exploration of language, race, and history.

In a suite of twelve virtuosic stories written with firecracker prose, critically acclaimed YA author Sean Beaudoin explores themes of coming of age, the absurdities of adult life, and the thrills and disappointments of love (with some sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll thrown in for good measure). Garth Stein calls Welcome Thieves—Beaudoin’s first book for adults—a deviously spellbinding collection.

In Chasing the North Star, Robert Morgan brings to full and vivid life the story of a runaway slave who, on his eighteenth birthday, flees the South Carolina plantation on which he was born. As Jonah makes his way to upstate New York, he meets Angel, a slave girl with a remarkably free spirit who sees Jonah as her way to freedom. Robert Morgan’s historical adventure tale is storytelling of the highest caliber.

Set partly in Los Alamos, New Mexico, during the building of the first atomic bomb, Elizabeth J. Church’s debut, The Atomic Weight of Love, tells the story of a woman whose scientific ambition is caught up in her relationships with two very different men. Spanning the years from World War II through the Vietnam War, this stirring novel will ring true to every woman who has had to make the impossible choice between who she is and who circumstances ask her to be.

With dazzling debuts and gripping new works by seasoned greats, our Spring 2016 fiction list exemplifies Algonquin’s mission: to bring you exciting literature of the highest quality. Thank you for turning our pages.

The Algonquin Staff




Anybody who knew me when I was growing up would be floored to find out I’ve written a horror novel. As a child, I lived in a constant state of worry and fear. I wouldn’t eat spaghetti sauce because it looked like blood; I thought cats wanted to crawl down my throat thanks to Tales from the Dark Side; and I was sure every crime ever profiled on Unsolved Mysteries was going to happen to me (how unbelievably scary was Robert Stack on that show?). Every Friday the thirteenth, it was verboten at my house to even flip past the USA Network, because that’s when they played the Jason movies back to back to back. The slightest glimpse of Jason and his mask was enough to make me sleepless for days.

But that was before the day I almost died.

ON JUNE 10, 1994, I jogged to an aerobics class at the YMCA. I was thirteen years old, and I lived in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Why did I jog to an aerobics class, sweat Richard-Simmons-style to wicked early nineties synth, and then bop out of the Y all set to jog back home when I had the body mass index of a pile of corn husks? I don’t know. I guess I have too much energy. Some of which I should have invested, that flawlessly sunny