by Avery Caswell


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MotherLoad by Avery Caswell

The desperate, the pure-at-heart, the charmingly manipulative, the wise, the deluded — mothers and children of every stripe populate this collection of stories by Avery Caswell.

In “Irish Twins & Thoughts of Suicide,” Marann, a young artist down to her last three dollars, knows she can either fall into the unknown, or venture forth like a tightrope walker, while in “64 With a Sharpener” ten-year-old Frances, in her thin-soled Keds, is aware already of how much better the world looks at a distance. A military school cadet cons his mother in a series of text messages, only to discover he’s been conned himself. And in “Salvation” Maggie remembers her Gullah grandmother Pasqueline describing a summer sky, “so still, like a body, a kuwfa, with no more breath left in its bones.”

Caswell evokes past and present and paints a southern landscape with a deft brush, from neighborhoods with split level houses and paved driveways, dirt roads the color of mahogany with a cluster of shacks no bigger than a child’s playhouse, to a garden full of cures and curses, where the gardener knows which plants nourish and which are pure poison, and should she choose, she could “consign anyone to his fate, with no more thought than deadheading a bed of chrysanthemums.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780989788571
Publisher: Lorimer Press
Publication date: 09/01/2015
Pages: 88
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Originally from Chicago, Caswell holds a BFA and MFA in design, and an MFA in creative writing and publication arts. She studied writing at Iowa Writers’ Workshop and illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art. Passionate about combining words and images, she was the lead writer and book designer for LUCK, A Collection of Facts, Fiction, Incantations & Verse. Her collages were featured in Far From the Centers of Ambition, and she is the author of Motherload, stories. (

What People are Saying About This

Karen Salyer McElmurray

"Avery Caswell's stories deeply inhabit their worlds. Inside these story-worlds, Caswell's characters get under the skin and dance. I left Caswell's world aching but aware, always, of the possibility of magic. Lightning streaks in from the west. Rain sets in. The stories in MotherLoad remind us of wind and moonlight and possibility." --Karen Salyer McElmurray author of The Motel of the Stars: A Novel

Joseph Bathanti

"The voices that usher us through Avery Caswell's elegantly biting and wonderfully written collection of stories, MotherLoad, put me in mind of John Cheever: characters plagued with endearing ennui, and chic self-destructive urges. Their salvation, however, is cynicism and a fabulously dry sense of humor. The language in these stories is immaculate, playful, often mugging with the wit and kick of Dorothy Parker and Lillian Hellman. And, yes, these stories are loaded with mothers — yours and mine — evoked with confusion and paradox, harrowing truth and indisputable love: elegies, praise-songs, lambasts. This is convincingly good writing." --Joseph Bathanti, author of The Life of the World to Come: A Novel and North Carolina Poet Laureate (2012—2014)

Abigail DeWitt

"MotherLoad is a marvel, packed with richly drawn and often haunting characters. Caswell writes with gorgeous precision in an astonishing range of voices and styles, all shot through with a wonderfully wry sense of humor. From the terrifying Mother Franklin to the tough, broken narrator of “Irish Twins & Thoughts of Suicide,” Caswell's characters deepen our sense of what it is to be human." --Abigail DeWitt author of DOGS and Lili

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