Water Music: Stories

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Clay Shanahan, Lisa
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University of the South , School of Letters Thesis 2022 , School of Letters , Fiction , short stories , short fiction
Characters confront pivotal moments, their lives and times defined by flux, in “Water Music,” a collection of short fiction. A visitor arrives, inciting change: a betrayal, a ghost, a violent act, a suicide plan, destruction of a neighborhood, sex, war. Underneath the trauma, beats the intense love between women and men. These stories leverage a variety of styles and narrative strategies, while ranging over seminal decades in America. A young girl interprets a shocking church service through sound in the titular piece, “Water Music.”A university professor and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan are designing a backyard geode garden in “The Wandered Off” when the past confronts them in a disturbing manner. In “The Photo Essay” a college woman entangled with a complicated group of friends struggles to define herself. She gains self-knowledge by discovering how others see her. Meet elderly couple Claire and Dave in “The Device,” a utopian tale set in the world’s most famous amusement park, on the day Dave plans to die. In “Possessions,” a campus ghost story, Caroline must decide who she is and where she belongs while navigating two intense relationships. A gang of children—Janie, brother Roscoe, and pal Crockett—fight back against forces they don’t understand during the tumultuous Vietnam era in “The Field.” Charlotte and Robby, a brother and sister close growing up, are attempting to reset their adult relationship when a senseless act of violence interrupts in “Waffle House Christmas.”