Stone Skimmers, a story collection and fiction debut by Jennifer Wisner Kelly, was chosen by Stewart O’Nan for the G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction and will be published Nov. 5 by BkMk Press, University of Missouri-Kansas City. Kelly lives in Concord, Massachusetts, and is available for bookstore and library appearances in the New England area, where many of the stories in her book take place.Stone Skimmers opens in pristine, affluent Old Stonington, Connecticut, where a peculiar fifteen-year-old girl swims for hours each day across the town reservoir, lost to her own obsessions. The popular crowd spies from shore, mocking her strangeness, cozy in their camaraderie, until one betrays the group by befriending the outsider.
The remaining six stories follow this splintered clique into adulthoods rife with isolation and loss, exploring the lives of those who stayed in the sheltered world of their childhoods and the challenges faced by those who chose to leave.
During a cave dive in Mexico, a jealous young woman sacrifices her sister in a desperate attempt to appease the gods of fertility. An overwhelmed mother forms an intimate connection with a wild fox after her husband abandons both his family and his utopian farming fantasy.A troubled son sent to an agricultural reform school becomes captivated by a friend who purports to commune with Jesus. A young widow must institutionalize her elderly aunt, a society lady stripped of decorum and reason by dementia, perpetually reliving her life’s one great disaster.
The collection ultimately offers a profound exploration of what it means to come of age amid the astonishing joys and losses of adulthood, and amid the challenges that each of us face in shaping our own lives out of the origins into which we were born.
Jennifer Wisner Kelly grew up in Connecticut, where most of the stories in Stone Skimmers are set. Her work has appeared in Poets & Writers, Greensboro Review, Massachusetts Review, and Beloit Fiction Journal. She is a graduate of Harvard, University of Chicago Law School, and Warren Wilson College’s MFA program. She now lives in Concord, Massachusetts and practices law at a domestic violence advocacy nonprofit. Stone Skimmers is her debut book.