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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.

How to Fly, by Rachael Perry

rEprint Series Ebooks

How to Fly, by Rachael Perry

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How to Fly-Cover.jpg

How to Fly, by Rachael Perry

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Inventive stories are almost a force of nature in "How to Fly," a lyrical and off-beat exploration of what is extraordinary in the every day. Anything is possible when normal people, in the course of living their lives, stumble into tough choices grudgingly, trudgingly, like a long walk through unplowed Michigan snow.

In "Hawk," a lonely carpenter on his way to work spots an enormous bird that slams against his van and drops the snake it was clutching into his lap. Soon, the story spreads across his tiny town, and changes, and expands: his neighbors snatch pencils he has used to write love letters, his license-plate numbers to play the lottery. From him, now, they expect stories and miracles.

In "Elysia By Light of Snow Lantern," an ice sculptor returns to a tourist city with the first snow, just as she does every year, but this time suffers such profound heartbreak that both she and winter decide to stay.

In "When Lake Michigan Leaves," an outsider to a small community falls in love with a lake everyone else takes for granted - she sleeps on its beaches, covers herself in birch leaves and driftwood, shares silent toasts and bottles of wine with it - but, over time, feels it drift away like an uninterested lover: a drop at first, and then gallons and waves.

In "Sullivan's Inventory," a quiet man content to stock shelves at the local grocery shocks his colleagues when he disappears one day with a customer who buys beautiful, unexpected things.

In "Nests," a woman desperate to flee from her home and all its memories decides instead to help the endangered warblers that come and go each year but don't realize their nests are being invaded by more aggressive birds. In return, she thinks, the least they can do is teach her how to fly.

Award-winning author Bonnie Jo Campbell says, "Perry's fictional worlds have a beauty that is both innocent and ancient." "How to Fly" is the debut collection of an honest voice, American stories that explore how dreams soar and plummet, spin, twist and dive, and how some may never get off the ground.


"Here is the debut of a writer with perfect vision, luminous and lasting." -- Wendell Mayo, author of

"Perry's brave stories move gently through a mythic, transcendental Michigan ... A wonderful, whimsical collection." -- Anthony Doerr, author of

"This rainbow of stories will dazzle you." -- Bonnie Jo Campbell


Rachael Perry, a native of Michigan, finished her first collection of stories, How to Fly, while working at a library in Düsseldorf, Germany. Her stories are greatly influenced by her experiences in small Midwestern towns, where everybody knows somebody who knows somebody, and the natural splendor of all four seasons and freshwater lakes shapes character like the glaciers once shaped this land.