Mendocino Fire


Elizabeth Tallent

From a writer praised for her “keen, quicksilver appreciation for her characters’ inner lives” comes this beautifully written collection—her first new work in twenty years—of ten richly imagined stories about characters pursuing honest work and love in a time of tumultuous change and ecological peril.

“In her fourth collection, Tallent explores the spaces between people through 10 expertly crafted stories. . . . Tallent’s collection offers a smart, thought-provoking study of desire and disappointment.”—Publishers Weekly

“Tallent’s assured voice is a pleasure to follow through this book. . . . An ambitious and wide-ranging set of stories that creates empathy for most of its characters due to Tallent’s generous imagination.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Elizabeth Tallent is, and always has been, a vivid, meticulous, and astutely inviting writer. These new stories vitally tell us how things are for us, in the most acute and memorable ways. Her ear is perfect; her gaze searing and unmistakable.”—Richard Ford

“A good short story is a visceral thing, but it is rare to find stories as elegant, as perfectly made as Elizabeth Tallent’s, that put a scare into us. Tallent is a magician: her characters get sawed in half by life and stand up whole.”—Valerie Trueblood, author of Search Party and Seven Loves

“The first pleasure here is the glitter and darkness of the prose only Tallent can produce; but the profounder gift in these stories is the author’s empathy, a tireless empathy, her knowledge of her characters’ peculiar entitlements and pangs and assumptions.”—Louis B. Jones, author of Innocence and Ordinary Money

“Elizabeth Tallent’s style is so distinctive, and it’s the kind of writing I so enjoy, never obvious, full of complex thought and perception, so boldly ambitious.”—Tessa Hadley, author of Clever Girl and The London Train

Beginning in the 1980s, Elizabeth Tallent’s work appeared in some of our most prestigious literary publications, including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Harper’s, and The Threepenny Review. Marked by its quiet power and stylistic elegance, her fiction garnered widespread praise.

Now, at long last, Tallent returns with a new collection of diverse, thematically linked, and deeply powerful stories that confirm her enduring gift for capturing relationships at their moment of transformation: marriages breaking apart, people haunted by memories of old love and reaching hauntingly toward new futures. Mendocino Fire explores moments of fracture and fragmentation; it limns the wilderness of our psyches and brilliantly evokes the unnerving force of deep emotion. In these pages, Tallent exposes expectations met and thwarted, and our never-ending quest for meaningful connection.

With this breathtaking collection, Elizabeth Tallent cements her rightful place in the literary pantheon beside her contemporaries Lorrie Moore, Ann Beattie, and Louise Erdrich. Visceral and surprising, profound yet elemental, Mendocino Fire is a welcome visit with a wise and familiar friend.