In This Side of Water, Maureen Pilkington’s bright debut collection, precise and vivid language delivers flawed characters to their moments of reckoning. A married woman goes to the cemetery to resurrect her father; a young girl at a beach club witnesses her parents’ infidelity; an icy New Year’s Eve leads a devoted husband to violent clarity; a teenager spies on her mother and a Catholic priest; a Russian “dancer” visits her American husband and plays a dangerous game. In these sixteen stories, the backdrop of water—the Long Island Sound, the sulfur polluted Monangahela River, a koi pond, a basin of holy water, a tear in a boy’s eye—provides a salve for these characters, ferrying them to personal ports of renewal and resolution.
“Brutally eloquent. A mesmerizing collection with a heat seeking eye for brilliant humor and intense passionate loves.”
– Ernesto Quinonez, author of the bestselling novel Bodega Dreams
“Filled with humor, honesty, and wonderfully perceptive details, these suspenseful stories, told in an original voice, delight and illuminate.”
– Sheila Kohler, author most recently of Once We Were Sisters
“These are brave stories. Pilkington seems willing to go anywhere she needs to for a story, and fully inhabit any character. This Side of Water is a wide-ranging and darkly beautiful collection of stories.”
– Peter Orner, author of Esther Stories
“Maureen Pilkington’s This Side of Water reminds you that the brief glimpse offered by the short story form can stop and startlingly recharge your heart. In all of these stories the dialogue throws sparks as it reveals the ways that vulnerable people talk who feel the competing needs to evade and to give themselves over to truthfulness. The veil lifts here on compulsions resulting from uncontainable desires; it lifts here on private longing and guilt and fear. Like the sensuous energies of water, these stories alter your body’s responsiveness to the world, inviting you to experience new aliveness.”
– Kevin McIlvoy, novelist and short story writer, is author of At the Gate of All Wonder and 57 Octaves Below Middle C.