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Dzanc Books is nonprofit press specializing in literary fiction and nonfiction. In addition to publishing activities, Dzanc Books also supports the Disquiet International Literary Program.

A Girl Goes into the Forest by Peg Alford Pursell

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A Girl Goes into the Forest by Peg Alford Pursell

A Girl Goes Into the Forest 02.5.jpg
A Girl Goes Into the Forest 02.5.jpg

A Girl Goes into the Forest by Peg Alford Pursell


Publication Date: July 16, 2019
Paperback: 200 pages
ISBN: 978-1-945814-87-7

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Following her acclaimed debut, Show Her a Flower, A Bird, A Shadow, award-winning author Peg Alford Pursell explores and illuminates love and loss in 78 hybrid stories and fables. A Girl Goes into the Forest immerses readers in the complex desires, contradictions, and sorrows of daughters, wives, and husbands, artists, siblings, and mothers.

In forests literal and metaphorical, the characters try, fail, and try again to see the world, to hear each other, and to speak the truth of their longings. Powerful, lyrical, and precise, Pursell’s stories call up a world at once mysterious and recognizable.

A Girl Goes into the Forest invites fans of Lydia Davis and Helen Oyeyemi into a world where “no one can deter a person from her mistakes.”


“In these wistful, expansive stories, Peg Alford Pursell holds up a mirror to our lives and relationships. The stories excavate the lives of her narrators with honesty and clear, luminous prose. They are mysterious in the way the best fiction is—their truths echoing long after you turn the page.”
—Karen E. Bender, National Book Award finalist and author of Refund

“The stories in A Girl Goes Into the Forest are as beautiful and fine as a string of pearls and as complex as a thousand-piece puzzle. Each one is like a doorway through which we glimpse an entire universe.”
—Ramona Ausubel, author of Awayland

“Peg Alford Pursell’s A Girl Goes Into the Forest runs like a collection of melted fairy tales in which archetypes of gender and culture are warped and subverted in the crucible of Pursell’s formidable intellect. These are stories of a variety that Joy Williams would recognize, tales broken all to pieces and hidden away in a weird apothecary. Pull open a drawer. See what hides within.”
—Christian Kiefer, author of Phantoms

“The ordinary lives of parents, daughters, husbands, wives, illness and grief are transformed in Peg Alford Pursell’s second collection, A Girl Goes Into the Forest. Here, the lucky reader enters a “forest” brimming with enchantments, daily life turned transcendent and strange, but no less moving. Assembled like a luminous mosaic of stained glass, these 78 tales read like prose poems—a pitch-perfect condensation of moments, inflected by Pursell’s uncanny ear for the lyric. A wonder of a book!”
—Karen Brennan, author of Monsters

A Girl Goes Into the Forest is nominally a collection of stories, but in its thrilling and original presentation, the book defies categorization. Pursell is a writer of precise and gorgeously riveting images, and her sentences shimmer with the spaciousness and lyricism of poetry. Reading these tales is to be drawn into worlds that feel at once recognizable and mythic. The effect is transporting.”
—Marisa Silver, author of Little Nothing and Mary Coin

“In seventy-eight viscerally powerful stories, Peg Alford Pursell masterfully reinvents the contemporary terrors and wonders that have faced the runaways and the revenants in our oldest tales. Passage by amazing passage, these interrelated stories capture the desiring and sorrowing and believing that can become threatening and then harmless and, at last, fatal. A spellbinding world.”
—Kevin McIlvoy, author of The Complete History of New Mexico and Other Stories

"Pursell is a master of the atmospheric moment. ... Precise, delicate, yet bloody-minded in their refusal to look away from the most painful moments of our tender lives, Pursell's stories shine brightest where they allow themselves to dwell undisturbed in their instants."

—Kirkus Reviews


PEG ALFORD PURSELL is the author of is the author of Show Her a Flower, A Bird, A Shadow, a collection of hybrid with praise from Peter Orner, Joan Silber, Antonya Nelson, Glen David Gold, and others, and featured by Poets & Writers magazine’s second annual 5 over 50, December 2017. Her work has appeared in Permafrost, the Los Angeles Review, Joyland Magazine, and other journals and anthologies. She is the founder and director of the national reading series Why There Are Words and of WTAW Press. She lives in Northern California.