Nona Caspers - Heaver Than Air

Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction
New York Times Editors’ Choice

University of Massachusetts Press

Cover artwork by Celeste Nelmes.

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"In the story 'Vegetative States' one of the characters says, 'I stand at my Auntie Jenny's hospital bed and watch her breathe. That's all she has to do—makes living look easy.' The quiet, honest stories in Heavier Than Air make writing look easy. Like the ideal Midwesterners of the imagination, the stories are powerful and true without ever drawing undue attention to themselves. To read them is to be lulled into deceptively simple narratives only to have your heart broken in the end. The collection is full of characters poised between themselves and the other, caught in moments that reveal the bare essence of what they—and we—have been looking for all along. Simply beautiful."
- Ana Menendez, author of When I Was in Cuba I Was a German Shepherd and Loving Che

"Nona Caspers' Heavier Than Air is that rare book of short stories that seems larger and more expansive than the form. In it she captures whole worlds at the moment of rupture: farm girls and fathers in love with the wrong people; lives lost to AIDS; men driven to insanity by the pressures of the economy; women straying from religion into madness—people on farms and in big cities alike finding their lives entirely changed. And in that turmoil is Nona Caspers' steady, unfailing eye and ear, capturing what we need to hold to."
- Maxine Chernoff, author of Some of Her Friends That Year and Signs of Devotion

"These stories are beautiful. The quality and originality of language and wide range of subject matter are maintained throughout. What seems at first like quiet Midwestern 'domestic fiction' gradually and inevitably moves into extreme emotional and mental territory as a result of love and desire."
- Wendy Brenner, author of Large Animals in Everyday Life and Phone Calls from the Dead

"Few writers stare down the perils of love, in all its myriad forms, as honestly and with as much intensity as Nona Caspers. The stories in Heavier Than Air are classic, beautiful, and so achingly felt that you will feel as though you've lived them yourself."
- Peter Orner, author of The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo