by Cameron MacKenzie
As the D.C. city sprawl moved west along the banks of the Potomac in the late 1990s, what had once been a rural backwater was rapidly transformed into a dystopian suburbia of suspicion, greed, and naked self-interest. This collection examines the resulting blends of money, race, and class that have come to define the ongoing metamorphosis of Northern Virginia. In “Kalim Mansour,” a boy trying to understand his father fixates on a mysterious Saudi car salesman. In “Rowdy,” a man who was sexually assaulted by his high-school football team still romanticizes their masculine code of behavior. In “A Non-Smoking House,” two contractors battle the realtors who control their livelihood as the ties that bind civil behavior pull tight, and then snap. Each of MacKenzie’s stories explores the incommensurable moments that lie at the heart of shared experience, the yawning gaps that separate us, and our desperate attempts to close them.
Content Warning: suicide, derogatory epithets, sports rape, peer pressure, strong language, racism, xenophobia, social injustice, war trauma, disability, toxic masculinity, drug use, failed sobriety, homophobia, conspiracies, sexualization, masculine sports culture, death
“Not since the short stories of Raymond Carver have I read a collection so attuned to the more dangerous currents of masculinity. Bloodied by every attempt to gentle them, MacKenzie’s characters are raw as an open wound. Men and boys alike, they careen through a world where mayhem follows like a loyal dog, always at their heels, always ready to leap.”
author of The Family Corleone
“The stories in River Weather manage to be both sensitive and transgressive, socially conscious and hard-edged. MacKenzie captures with exquisite detail the challenges of being a man in a world that’s gone to hell, coping with irresistible urges and impossible expectations. Like the work of Palahniuk and Ellis, these stories are riveting and bleed tensile masculinity. Crisp and hard-hitting, this book will leave you breathless.”
author of What the Zhang Boys Know
“Cameron MacKenzie is a highly skilled and versatile writer. Four of these stories are examples of flash fiction, running between one and two pages, and they establish their people and their settings with the same solidity that appears in the seven longer pieces here. MacKenzie is extremely good at developing situations of great tension, such that the reader’s breath shortens in expectation of some disaster or violence. Not only action-movie violence, you understand, but also the kind of motionless inward violence that can occur in a living room where some of the people in it are learning, or failing to learn, that it was a mistake for them to be there. The characters come alive, and say and do unforgettably convincing things. Finally, it is noteworthy that MacKenzie knows how to come to a satisfying ending without making an overwrought resolution. River Weather is a superb collection of fine stories.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning author
“Cameron MacKenzie’s River Weather is a triumph of voice and place. Anchored in geographic and emotional circumstance, the writing shimmers with energy. The voice sits next to you, beer or coffee in hand, and tells you stories that remind you of Chekhov and Carver and Johnson but are indelibly unique, passionate, and intelligent at once. This is a book you will return to time and again.”
author of The Cuban Comedy
“Resonant, spare, intense, and perfectly voiced, this book won’t back down. Cameron MacKenzie’s stories come straight at you, empowered by their perceptive humor and a steel-eyed acknowledgment of human wickedness, human hurt. No matter where you’re coming from, these tales of how men teach each other certain kinds of manhood—and what that means for all of us—will move you. River Weather sends its readers sliding down a zipline to damage, guilt, and unavoidable revelation.”
author of What Penelope Chooses
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• Short Stories | Flash Fiction
• 5” x 8” Perfectbound Trade Paperback
• Cream Paper, 170 Pages
• Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-946580-29-0
• Paperback ISBN-10: 1-946580-29-5
• First Edition: December 7, 2021
• Short URL: tinyurl.com/riverweather
• Read Excerpt Sample
• Request Review Copy
Cover design by Leah Angstman, with photograph by Andre Ludi.
CAMERON MACKENZIE’s work has appeared in Salmagundi, The Michigan Quarterly Review, The Rumpus, and CutBank, among other places. His novel, The Beginning of His Excellent and Eventful Career, was called “poignant, brutal, and beautiful” by Kirkus Reviews, and “visionary” by Rain Taxi. River Weather is his first collection of short stories. He lives in Roanoke, Virginia.
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