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Break Away Books

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An American Tune

Barbara Shoup

While reluctantly accompanying her husband and daughter to freshman orientation at Indiana University, Nora Quillen hears someone call her name, a name she has not heard in more than 25 years. Not even her husband knows that back in the ‘60s she was Jane Barth, a student deeply involved in the antiwar movement. An American Tune moves back and forth in time, telling the story of Jane, a girl from a working-class family who fled town after she was complicit in a deadly bombing, and Nora, the woman she became, a wife and mother living a quiet life in northern Michigan. An achingly poignant account of a family crushed under the weight of suppressed truths, now available as a Break Away Book Club Edition, An American Tune illuminates the irrevocability of our choices and how those choices come to compose the tune of our lives.

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An American Tune

A Novel

Barbara Shoup

While reluctantly accompanying her husband and daughter to freshman orientation at Indiana University, Nora Quillen hears someone call her name, a name she has not heard in more than 25 years. Not even her husband knows that back in the '60s she was Jane Barth, a student deeply involved in the antiwar movement. An American Tune moves back and forth in time, telling the story of Jane, a girl from a working-class family who fled town after she was complicit in a deadly bombing, and Nora, the woman she became, a wife and mother living a quiet life in northern Michigan. An achingly poignant account of a family crushed under the weight of suppressed truths, An American Tune illuminates the irrevocability of our choices and how those choices come to compose the tune of our lives.

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And Yet It Moves

Erin Stalcup

In this exquisite debut short story collection, people with unusual jobs and lives embark on extraordinary journeys. A taboo romance breaks the laws of gravity. Albert Einstein writes letters to the daughter he abandoned. A female physicist meets Stephen Hawking in a bar.... In the closing novella, All Those Stairs, an elevator operator with a genius IQ rides up and down all day enclosed in a metal box. Author Erin Stalcup explores these lives with remarkable compassion, depth, and insight examining loss and longing, and how our bodies and minds can be both weighted and freed. And Yet It Moves is a powerful combination of both absurdist and realist—stories that literally defy gravity.

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Confessions of a Guilty Freelancer

William O'Rourke

William O'Rourke's singular view of American life over the past 40 years shines forth in these short essays on subjects personal, political, and literary, which reveal a man of keen intellect and wide-ranging interests. They embrace everything from the state of the nation after 9/11 to the author's encounter with rap, from the masterminds of political makeovers to the rich variety of contemporary American writing. His reviews illuminate both the books themselves and the times in which we live, and his personal reflections engage even the most fearful events with a special humor and gentle pathos. Readers will find this richly rewarding volume difficult to put down.

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Congratulations on Your Martyrdom!

Zachary Tyler Vickers

Searing, troubling, and funny, these revolutionary, linked stories flit and dart among the shadows of small town life, and the touching and heartbreaking characters that occupy it. Employees use roadkill instead of faux pelts during a build-a-critter battle for mall supremacy. Former band geeks are harassed with mutilated musical instruments and then murdered. The collection is haunted by allusions to a fatal cannonball jump that crescendos in the explosive final story. An extraordinary addition to the canon of gonzo fiction, Congratulations on Your Martyrdom! introduces Zachary Tyler Vickers as an exciting new author whose unflinching prose grabs you and won’t let go.

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Dancing in Dreamtime

Scott Russell Sanders

Fans today may be surprised to learn Scott Russell Sanders was previously one of the brightest science-fiction newcomers of the 1980s. In Dancing in Dreamtime, he returns to his roots, exploring both inner and outer space in a speculative collection of short stories. At a time when humankind faces unprecedented, global-scale challenges from climate change, loss of biodiversity, dwindling vital resources, and widespread wars, this collection of planetary tales will strike a poignant chord with the reader. Sanders has created worlds where death tolls rise due to dream deprivation, where animals only exist in mechanical form, and where poisoned air forces people to live in biodomes. Never before has Sanders’s writing been so relevant and never before have the lessons in these stories been so important.

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Earth As It Is

Jan Maher

It’s the 1930s in Texas when Charlie Bader comes of age with urges he has struggled with since childhood and does not understand. After his new bride finds him wearing her own sexy lingerie and leaves him in disgust, he tries to move on. His efforts lead him to Chicago, where he stumbles on a community of cross-dressers and begins to attend their secret soirees. When Pearl Harbor is bombed, he volunteers for the army, serving as a dentist and trying once again to leave his obsession with soft clothes behind. Instead,his wartime experiences combined with the army's faulty record-keeping lead to his reappearance in the small town of Heaven, Indiana, as Charlene. There, Charleneopens a beauty shop where Heaven’s women safely share their stories and secrets as she shampoos, clips, curls, and combs their hair. Charlenedeftly manages to keep her own story hidden and her sexual desires quiet until she falls in love with a female customer and her life begins to change.

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Elegies for Uncanny Girls

Jennifer Colville

Unsettling and perceptive, these short stories challenge American girlhood in all its delusions, conflicting messages, and treacherous terrain. Wide- and wise-eyed, mysterious girls leave their realities behind for strange and slightly unreal places at the edges of the country. Alternatively they hover over their Midwestern homes in interior worlds of their own creation. The stories in Elegies for Uncanny Girls stand at a boundary where both the girls’ bodies and their tales are either their own or laid claim to by the culture and characters that surround them. A young woman whose body continually shrinks and expands moves to Los Angeles to make a movie about tragic merpeople; bewildered and seeking guidance, a new mom strikes up a conversation with a woman with detachable hands; and spurred on by a new ally who might just be a figment of her imagination, a girl decides she can choose her own friends.

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The Glimpse Traveler

Marianne Boruch

When she joins a pair of hitchhikers on a trip to California, a young Midwestern woman embarks on a journey about memory and knowledge, beauty and realization. This true story, set in 1971, recounts a fateful, nine-day trip into the American counterculture that begins on a whim and quickly becomes a mission to unravel a tragic mystery. The narrator’s path leads her to Berkeley, San Francisco, Mill Valley, Big Sur, and finally to an abandoned resort motel, now become a down-on-its-luck commune in the desert of southern Colorado. Neither a memoir about private misery, nor a shocking exposé of life in a turbulent era, The Glimpse Traveler describes with wry humor and deep feeling what it was like to witness a peculiar and impossibly rich time.

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Hallow This Ground

Colin Rafferty

Beginning outside the boarded-up windows of Columbine High School and ending almost twelve years later on the fields of Shiloh National Military Park, Hallow This Ground revolves around monuments and memorials—physical structures that mark the intersection of time and place. In the ways they invite us to interact with them, these sites teach us to recognize our ties to the past. Colin Rafferty explores places as familiar as his hometown of Kansas City and as alien as the concentration camps of Poland in an attempt to understand not only our common histories, but also his own past, present, and future. Rafferty blends the travel essay with the lyric, the memoir with the analytic, in this meditation on the ways personal histories intersect with History, and how those intersections affect the way we understand and interact with Place.

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