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Set in Appalachian Ohio amid an epidemic of prescription opiate abuse, Michael Henson’s linked collection tells of a woman’s search for her own peculiar kind of redemption, and brings the novel-in-stories form to new heights. Maggie Boylan is an addict, thief, liar, and hustler. But she is also a woman of deep compassion and resilience. The stories follow Maggie as she spirals through her addictive process, through the court system and treatment, and into a shaky new beginning.
In these masterful stories, we rarely occupy Maggie’s perspective, but instead gain a multilayered portrait of a community as we see other people’s lives bump up against hers—and we witness her inserting herself into their spheres, refusing to be rebuffed. The result is a prismatic view of a community fighting to stay upright against the headwinds of a drug epidemic: always on edge, always human.
“Michael Henson is one of the finest authors of literary fiction writing today. His Maggie Boylan stories give voice to those among us who are seldom heard. Maggie Boylan is an important work of art, beautifully rendered.”—Amy Greene, author of Long Man and Bloodroot
“Henson gets to the heart of working class and underclass people in ways that break your heart and then put it together again through the power of his art.”—Gurney Norman, author of Divine Right’s Trip and Kinfolks
“A devastating short fiction collection about the incestuous relationship between local law enforcement and drug dealers as well as the clients they both share—hapless and resourceful addicts, of which Maggie is queen. Henson’s collection is easily the best fictional account of the widespread meth and Oxy wreckage in Appalachia since Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone.”—Kate Flaherty, Ploughshares
Praise for Michael Henson’s A Small Room with Trouble on My Mind:
“Michael Henson is the Philip Levine of the urban Appalachian working class. His writing is so immediate that you feel the vibrations of guitar strings and sirens, smell beer and sweat, and hear broken glass crunch under your feet. Nothing is pretty in this world, but much is beautiful, seen through Henson’s compassion for his characters and his clarity about generations wrecked by capitalism without conscience.”—George Ella Lyon, 2015–2016 poet laureate of Kentucky