Set against a backdrop of small towns and hard-working communities in middle America, The Whole World at Once is a collection of intense stories about the experience of loss. Pringle weaves together spellbinding tales amidst shadowed and foreboding physical and emotional landscapes where each of the characters is in motion against her surroundings, and each is as likely as the next to be traveling with a ghost. A soldier returns home from multiple tours only to begin planting landmines in the field behind his house; kids chase a ghost story up country roads only to become one themselves; one girl copes with the anniversary of her sister’s disappearance during the agricultural fair, while another girl searches for understanding after seeing the picture of a small boy washed onto a beach.
In language that is at once both stark and rich, we enter the lives of the characters deliberately, in slow scenes—time enough for a bird to sing as a man and a girl, strangers, fall to their knees—that are inevitable yet laced with the unpredictable. Dark, strange beauties, all of the stories in The Whole World at Once follow the lives of people grappling with what it means to live in a world with death.
“Erin Pringle’s stories leave you no choice. They sing so gorgeously, break your heart so perfectly, that you’re forced to revise your understanding of loss, luck, and love.” —Tom Noyes, author of Come by Here: A Novella and Stories
“Readers willing to immerse themselves in sorrow, and sometimes in narratives that twist and shimmer before taking definite shape, will find reflected in these stories the unsteady path of coming back to life—or not—after loss.” —Kirkus Reviews
Erin Pringle is the author of The Floating Order. Her work has been selected as a notable pick for Best American Non-Required Reading, shortlisted for the Charles Pick Fellowship, and a finalist for contests such as the Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest and the Kore Press Short Fiction Award. She was awarded a Washington State Artist Trust Fellowship, which she used to write and revise many of these stories. Learn more at erinpringle.com.
Read an interview with the author here!