Alicia L. Conroy's stories stretch the boundaries of form and language to demarcate an imaginary territory of her own devising. The characters in Lives of Mapmakers—whether a contemporary farm worker or a sixteenth-century cartographer—seek direction in their lives. Their journeys are ethereal and magical: the discovery of a prairie mermaid exposes the best and worst in people, teenagers puzzle over their bodies' changing geographies and, in the title story, a mapmaker's quest to perfect his worldview becomes part of a narrative fabric that spans centuries. Conroy experiments with the contour of language, working in nontraditional narrative forms. She etches crosshatched landscapes in which her protagonists must make decisions whose consequences are beyond their immediate comprehension. Her inventive and off-center use of metaphor and myth ultimately open our eyes to the beauty and struggle occurring in the quotidian world around us.
About the Author
ALICIA L. CONROY lived in Denmark and Wales, and worked in Boston for 13 years before returning to her hometown of Minneapolis, Minn.
She received a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and a M.F.A. from Bowling Green State University. She publishes fiction, feature articles and reviews.
Table of Contents
Mud-Colored Beauties of the Plains
The One Thing I'm Good At
Lives of Mapmakers
Women Who Dream of Corn
What the Body Learns
The Nameless Season
A Short Treatise on the Effects of Genetics and Environment
The Sun Sails Broad Reach
All This Talking About God
What People are Saying About This
"In this astonishing debut, Alicia L. Conroy takes us on a journey from the palpably familiar to the deliciously imaginative realms of truth. These are brave stories, undaunted by convention and the humdrum of our times. Each is one of a kind, gorgeously hand-drawn, inspired by bold dreams, rendered with precision, together a true and beautiful atlas of the human heart."
"Alicia Conroy understands the body. She knows how truths lie within tensed muscles, how heartache is embodied in a hand with missing fingers, how an asthmatic's every inhalation is a prayer. The earth too is a body, covered in mud and foliage, and mountains that 'crumple and peak like bed sheets.' In the cautionary environmental tale 'The Nameless Season,' the Earth's surface turns to brown slime. In another story, a mermaid is found dormant but alive in the ancient muck of a stream bed. Reading Conroy's lush and lyrical stories is a visceral experience; it feels like waking up and stretching."