Beneath the Bonfire: Stories
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, has become an international bestseller and won numerous accolades, including France's Prix Page/America, previously won by Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding. Now, in Beneath the Bonfire, he demonstrates his talent for portraying "a place and its people with such love that you'll find yourself falling for them, too" (Josh Weil, author of The Great Glass Sea).
Young couples gather to participate in an annual "chainsaw party," cutting down trees for firewood in anticipation of the winter. A group of men spend a weekend hunting for mushrooms in the wilderness where they grew up and where some still find themselves trapped. An aging environmentalist takes out his frustration and anger on a singular, unsuspecting target. One woman helps another get revenge against a man whose crime extends far beyond him to an entire community. Together, the ten stories in this dazzling, surprising collection evoke a landscape that will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has traveled the back roads and blue highways of America, and they completely capture the memorable characters who call it home.
beginning to storm the hill. The mushrooms were indeed popping now. Everywhere beneath the elms they emerged from the earth, their form a dunce cap textured like brain, just slightly harder than cottage cheese. Beneath the trees the men went on their hands and knees, careful not to disrupt the forest floor too much, knives in hands, cutting the mushrooms free of their bases, stuffing the morels into their bags. They did not shout upon discovering a cache of mushrooms. There were other men in the
goddamned day is what I have to say about it all.” The three men shook hands and grinned widely. They were filled with a kind of glow, warm and big in their chests. “You ought to take all these mushrooms back for your wife,” Coffee said to Deere. Rimes looked up, mildly aghast. “The hell are we gonna do with fifteen pounds of morels?” Deere laughed. “Shit. I love Diane too, but mostly we eat out anyway.” “Still,” continued Coffee, “you could show her what we do together. What it’s like to
food around her plate as if her dish had been poisoned. Smiling grimly. Standing over the sink, wrapping coffee mugs emblazoned with the names of places his mother visited in her retirement—Branson, Gatlinburg, Galena, Wisconsin Dells—he thinks about nights there, Sunday nights when he might leave Renée at home and come visit his mother. A bouquet of sunflowers in his hand. There’s a lightbulb out in that hallway, his mother would say, I’m scared of ladders these days. Or, The toilet is
here. They migrate. Down to the Gulf. They’re soon to head down there. And I can’t imagine what they’ll see or think. I hope they come back up here, but the truth is, I’ll be gone anyway, I suppose. “I don’t have much to live for anymore. The planet gets worse and worse, if you ask me, and nobody does anything about it. So I don’t know. Maybe it is worth it. To kill you. To put you down. To be the one who sends you away for all times. Because I don’t believe that you do care. I don’t think you’d
into the river. They were in their fifties probably, and had inherited the house from their mother, who passed on just a few years after I had bought my house. The mother had been a kind old woman, and I’d shoveled her driveway and mowed her lawn sometimes. One Christmas she knit me a pair of mittens two sizes too small. I’d never met her daughters, though. They kept the house dark and rarely ever seemed to leave. “That’s who you have to watch,” Sunny would say. “The fucking quiet ones. I’ll bet