Rhonda Browning White

Winner of the 2019 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction

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Rhonda Browning White resides near Daytona Beach, Florida. Her work appears in Qu Literary Journal, Hospital Drive, HeartWood Literary Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Steel Toe Review, Ploughshares Writing Lessons, Tiny Text, NewPages, South 85 Journal, The Skinny Poetry Journal, WV Executive, Mountain Echoes, Gambit, Justus Roux, Bluestone Review, and in the anthologies Ice Cream Secrets, Appalachia’s Last Stand, and Mountain Voices. Her blog “Read. Write. Live!” is found at www.RhondaBrowningWhite.com. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and was awarded a fellowship from Eckerd College’s Writers in Paradise.

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The Lightness of Water and Other Stories by Rhonda Browning White
from 14.95

Winner of the 2019 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction

Publication date: October 11, 2019

Pre-order now for mid-September delivery

ISBN 978-1-950413-07-2 (paperback)

ISBN 978-1-950413-08-9 (hardcover)

8.5 x 5.5, approx 146 pages

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Book description

The characters in these emotionally charged stories deal with loneliness, loss, greed, and guilt. They, like all of us, wrestle with the people, places, and memories they cling to, belong to, and run from, learning (sometimes too late), that these experiences remain with them forever. The nine stories in The Lightness of Water and Other Stories are bound by a strong sense of place—Appalachia and the South—and prove that no matter where we go, there’s no place far enough to leave home behind. 

Praise for The Lightness of Water and Other Stories

Rhonda Browning White’s debut story collection, The Lightness of Water & Other Stories, is a deep dive into the dark currents of the Appalachian coal region, a place in America where mountains are destroyed and people’s lives are poisoned. These are hard hitting stories by a young writer with a ruthless eye for the truth.

—Edward Falco, author of Sabbath Night in the Church of the Piranha: New and Selected Stories

The Lightness of Water masterfully renders the lives of West Virginia characters displaced from the fragile land and culture of their deeply rooted ancestors. Fraught by the aftermath of coal mining and lumber companies, Rhonda Browning White’s characters grapple with poisoned land, cancer, joblessness, and infertility. Despite the explosive circumstances, these stories are nuanced and finely crafted, infused with humor and humanity. This is a thrilling and highly satisfying debut collection by a craftswoman already at the height of her powers.

—Susan Tekulve, author of In the Garden of Stone and Second Shift

How can we love a place that’s killing us? Why plant roots in a rootless world? Ranging from those left behind on the forgotten mountains of West Virginia to DAR mean girls and wannabes, Rhonda Browning White’s resilient people give voice to the hard questions and, ultimately, show us the way home.

—Leslie Pietrzyk, author of Silver Girl and This Angel on My Chest

The stories in Rhonda Browning White’s excellent first collection are laid out in a perfectly balanced tension between the necessities and responsibilities of love–and ecological and personal catastrophe.

—Meredith Sue Willis, author of Their Houses and In Mountains of America

One might describe the lives of the characters in this collection as hardscrabble, but that word "hardscrabble" would paint these characters and their stories with too broad and dismissive a brush, would suggest their lives are too far removed from ours. Rhonda Browning White's artistry and insight takes us so much deeper into the nuances of her characters' lives that we get to know them up close, recognize parts of ourselves within them, and see how much of their lives are our own--so much so we are moved, sometimes to tears, in the way great stories always move us.

—Marlin Barton, author of Pasture Art

Rhonda Browning White’s voice ranges from the Great Smokies of the early 20th century to the contemporary language of OxyContin and mountaintop removal. Her memorable characters are a welcome addition to the Appalachian literary landscape.

— Denise Giardina, author of Fallam’s Secret: A Novel and The Unquiet Earth: A Novel