for all the obvious reasons

Because a Fire Was in My Head

For All the Obvious Reasons is Lynn Stegner’s superb collection of nine, remarkably distinct tales of passion, clear—eyed wisdom, and honesty honed to a cutting edge. These are stories the reader can’t shake: A woman living a marital shadow-life realizes that her long compensating heart has begun to ominously decompensate. An affluent New Yorker becomes a hoarder to escape a future he cannot bear to take up. A baby dies in a miasma of sibling resentments and from that, the secrets of culpability unravel. A construction worker and a bereaved young neighbor together find a way to be in a broken world. And in the beautifully moving narrative that closes the volume, a story about the depth of goodness and duty, and of the profound love they both define and prevent. From the wild rivers of British Columbia to the cement jungle of Manhattan, Stegner pulls us from our own worlds into her own. With luminous particulars and in richly orchestrated language, these stories sound the vibrant, sometimes anguished music that composes human lives.

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“The luminosity of Stegner’s images and certain crystalline moments in these stories might remind a reader of the most powerful of James Salter’s work. The blade-like deftness of the characters’ interior pronouncements and realization—often coming with surprising and breathless misdirection—might remind readers as well of the work of Alice Munro: though the more I read of Stegner, the more I come to recognize not just her voice, tone, and style, but her own underlying spirit.”

Rick Bass

“These stories are magnificently inhabited, each a whole world and voice unto itself, novelistic in scope yet succinct and disturbing and beautiful in the way only short stories can be. They are carefully wrought and thought; transporting and convincing and surprising. Awesome -- as in, I stand in awe.”

Antonya Nelson