"At the center of this book is the death of the narrator’s partner in a bicycling accident. Each short chapter serves as a brief vignette of, or occasionally a magical-realist metaphor for, the grieving process. A shadow of a dog appears in her apartment with no apparent source; a crack opens in the ceiling and splits her building down the middle. One day she notices in the alley below her window four women chatting together and a fifth, with no features, standing on the perimeter. She finds herself wondering: What did she want from me? What are the things that matter? At times dryly comical, at other times radiantly surreal, The Fifth Woman is a testament to the resurrecting power of memory and enduring love."
Little Book of Days
Top Ten Selling Books Small Press Distribution (2009)
Nona Caspers’ Little Book of Days accretes like a pearl, layer upon layer, around her evocation of experience through language. The perfect beauty of her record of daily living will call out to you, and make you want to write back, to cohabit the form she has so radiantly informed. Seize the day—Nona Caspers has, and transformed it into music. COOLEY WINDSOR
Nona Caspers gives us a refreshingly honest and poignant slice of truth in her Book of Days. Observing cars, neighbors, ground squirrels, desire and death, Book of Days is a contemporary take on Montaigne’s famous Essays, so alive that every page feels as if it’s breathing. MAXINE CHERNOFF
I like how she falls through the present into prehistory (of this or that specific thing) in a blink. Supported by a rhythm of the claws of love, a hand on the back of your head, the warmth inside of coldness of the daily fading world—an avalanche of quiet risk-taking, this book sings. EILEEN MYLES
"Set mostly in rural Minnesota, this debut collection's stories are aching, spare studies of survival and desire. . . . Several of the central characters are girls growing up in the 1960s and '70s who struggle with secret longings for other girls, and their passionate awakenings are an undercurrent to the adults' foggy fatigue. In several stories, the simplest acts—even just noticing one's breath—become wondrous moments that push characters past anguish to reclaim their ‘bright, insistent, blooming' lives. Darkly funny, compassionate, and unsentimental, these quiet stories offer memorable, rarely seen views of midwestern life." — Booklist
"Throughout this collection, which was plucked from a pile of 300 manuscripts and awarded the Grace Paley Prize in short fiction, Caspers details the many ways reality can interfere with our dreams. . . . Many of Caspers's stories are set in Minnesota's cattle and dairy country, and all of them traffic in the kind of Midwestern realism that doesn't rely on pyrotechnics to generate dramatic heat. Throughout, Caspers's people—it's difficult to consider some of them mere characters—question the decisions they've made or the ones they refuse to make. There's nothing flashy about Caspers's prose; like the beauty of the prairie itself, its attraction lies in details seen up close." — New York Times Book Review
"The elegantly crafted short stories . . . quietly buzz with life and secrets, like a hot summer afternoon in Midwestern farm county. There is a thread of longing that moves through the stories, as the characters watch their dreams decompose under reality's harsh glare. . . . Caspers is a careful, unsentimental and highly skilled writer. . . . Like Anne Tyler, another Minnesota-born writer, Grace Paley and to a lesser extent Flannery O'Connor, Nona Caspers digs beneath the surface to examine the small details and then brings them to life in this quiet, but lovely collection of stories." — LAMBDA Book Report
"Revving up Willa Cather's naturalism and lesbian undertones with Denis Johnson's deadpan Plains rowdiness, these are like alt-country songs, tales of wild but not wild-eyed girls and women as likely to be enraptured by the girl next door as by the lay of the land. The prose is exact, unsparing, unsentimental. . . . Caspers' pungent voice, her fairness to city and country mores, and the artful arrangement of her tales reward rereading. Simplicity this precise takes time, talent and considerable cultivation." — San Francisco Chronicle
20 tales of love, sex, and commitment in the 21st Century—spiritual and scandalous, philosophical and trivial, heartbreaking and hilarious. The narrators of Lawfully Wedded Wives tell the unique first-person stories of marrying in the months immediately following the California Supreme Court’s 2008 decision that it was unconstitutional to deny marriage rights to gays and lesbians. Choosing to wed with varying levels of joy and trepidation, this eclectic group of women had at least two things in common: a compelling reason to rush to the altar and a stack of wedding photographs. In their own words, these are the voices of history.
"While Joell and I were interviewing people about their path to the altar, how they met, how their relationships evolved, and how they decided to wed, I was having daily conversations with my ex about who would get what furniture, who owed whom what money, the value of the flat, how to share the dog. I worried that hearing about others’ wedded bliss might plunge me into the abyss, but instead I found myself fascinated, and surprised, by what these women were saying, the way they spoke about their love and their decision to legally marry."