Exploring the vagaries of life, human connection, and desire, the twelve stories of Safe Places navigate the fault lines of existence. Shifting from New York and Chicago to the American West and the Australian outback, Kerry Dolan’s characters move through an uncertain and unpredictable world, confronting situations that are alternately menacing, tragic, and funny. An aspiring anthropologist falls under the sway of her fortuneteller. An American tourist catches opal fever in an Australian mining town and binds herself to a man she despises. Two hitchhiking teens take a ride with a mysterious stranger, while an unstable graduate student stalks the object of his affections across Berkeley. Assured and distinctive, the voice-driven stories of this debut collection capture the restless heart of characters in a state of flux, as they try—and frequently fail—to move beyond chance and circumstance.
About the Author
KERRY DOLAN is a Philadelphia-based writer. A finalist for the New American Fiction Prize and the Tartt First Fiction Award, her work has appeared in Quarterly West, Greensboro Review, Robert Olen Butler Prize Stories, and elsewhere. Dolan has received fellowships from MacDowell, the Ucross Foundation, the Millay Colony, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
“Safe Places gathers up stories of menace—the dangers of other people, the toxins of modern life—and a hedging affection for place. It’s a rumination on love, on loyalty and chance, a story collection brimming with surprises and quiet insight into why we fail, why we want, what sustains us. Infidelity and heartache, wanderlust, lust, superstition—all are here. I love the clean candor of these sentences, the buoyant generosity of this heart.”—Noy Holland, Juniper Prize for Fiction judge and author of I Was Trying to Describe What It Feels Like
“There’s something achingly humane about the stories in Kerry Dolan’s collection, Safe Places. Take a heartbreaker from the luminous story 'Lightning Ridge.' 'She wondered, often, what had gone wrong in her life.' Note the word: often. Don’t we all? Often wonder. Something so fundamental about it and about these stories. Dolan goes down to the roots, where all good stories must go. A must-read collection . . .”—Peter Orner, author of Maggie Brown & Others
“In these sharp-witted, provocative, disquieting stories, Kerry Dolan yanks you into the lives of her characters and holds on tight. These stories have spare but evocative prose, dialogue that cuts to the heart, and the sort of insight that makes you feel as if a character is whispering marvels into your ear.”—Lisa Carey, author of The Stolen Child
“This perceptive debut is a blues song in the key of Berriault, Michaels, and Paley. Kerry Dolan's vulnerable, diffident characters traverse American adolescence, adulthood, nomadism, sexual anomie, and the snub-nose paper-airplane endings of real life with a psychology so fine it aches.” —Edie Meidav, author of Kingdom of the Young