Jodi Paloni’s stories appear in a number of literary journals including upstreet, Carve Magazine, Whitefish Review, Green Mountains Review, Connotation Press, Prime Number Magazine, and have been anthologized in North by Northeast by Littoral Press and the Short Story America Anthology IV. Her stories have won the Short Story America Prize and placed second in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Raised in rural Pennsylvania, she lived in Vermont for twenty-five years before moving to the coast of Maine where she offers writing workshops and retreats.
They Could Live with Themselves was a runner-up for the 2015 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction and is her debut story collection.
Winner of the Independent Publisher Book Award Silver Medal for Short Fiction
Finalist for the Maine Literary Award for Fiction
Praise for They Could Live with Themselves
One of the many strengths of Jodi Paloni’s debut story collection, They Could Live with Themselves, is how it acknowledges a corollary truth: the impossibility of fully understanding the experiences or realities of others—sometimes, even those with whom we share a roof. By immersing us in the lives of residents of one fictional community, Paloni honors, with great compassion and insight, both private realities and the ways in which individuals do—or don’t—connect with others.
—Beth Castrolade, Small Press Picks
In a style of admirable calm and understatement, and with complete emotional authority, Jodi Paloni unites sense and sympathy in ways that are consistently artful, moving, and humane. Start at the beginning, and go straight through: Jodi Paloni just gets better and better.
—Castle Freeman, Jr., author of Go With Me
They Could Live with Themselves dazzles twice: first, as a collection of subtle and engaging short stories that stand on their own, and second, as a sustained narrative. The intriguing characters of the fictional town of Stark Run appear and reappear until, by book’s end, the reader sees the broader picture of Jodi Paloni’s expert weaving. Throughout, her prose pops with humor and insight as it tracks the eternal tug between giving to others and giving to oneself. This is a stunning debut.
—Philip Graham, author of Interior Design
Stark Run may not appear on any of Rand McNally’s maps, but it’s an important addition to America’s literary map, one that ranks up there with the likes of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, and Elizabeth Strout’s Crosby, Maine. I suggest that you visit Stark Run, and soon. If you do, you may leave it, but it and its characters will never leave you.
—David Jauss, author of Glossolalia: New & Selected Stories
I love these satisfyingly subversive stories in which the quietest people, the gentlest-seeming souls, are revealed as sometimes turbulent, always surprising. It is life as lived, complete with shocks, with strange alliances, with deeply wounded and miraculously healed hearts. Bravo to Jodi Paloni for seeing well past appearances, well past timeworn assumptions, and relaying to us all, so graciously, the truths that she has found.
—Robin Black, author of Drawing Lessons
Reading Jodi Paloni’s They Could Live With Themselves is akin to sitting down at a small-town bar or diner in Vermont and eavesdropping on people’s stories. You'll immediately feel the startling intimacies between characters, and each tale progressively unspools the charms, troubles, and triumphs of the small community, even as some ache to leave it all behind. A stirring portrait of rural New England, complete with lush, almost ethereal descriptions of the landscapes, this is a collection that you will savor long after the last page.
—Matthew Limpede, Executive Editor, Carve Magazine
Throughout these wise stories, Jodi Paloni demonstrates the human ability to continue on in the face of the unexpected, or more often, the expected, the inevitable, the routine. Her prose reflects her Vermont setting: sparse, restrained, with bursts of beauty and emotional resonance. Her characters—teachers and students, business owners and artists—surprise themselves (and us) with realizations that, quite often, arrive late, but never—Paloni assures us—too late. She writes with compassion and subtlety, reminding us of the ways that we are all connected and the ways that we must each, alone, learn to live with ourselves.
—Lori Ostlund, author of The Bigness of the World, winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction
They Could Live with Themselves will immerse you in the private lives behind the postcard scenes of a New England town. Reminiscent of Amy Bloom and Charles Baxter, Jodi Paloni is an eloquent and deeply humane writer with her ear tuned to the quiet, pivotal moments in her characters’ lives. The unsung and the unseen; the decent and the petty: the characters in these interwoven stories will remind you of people you know, and of yourself, at your most tender.
—Alexis M. Smith, author of Marrow Island