In the Spring 2014 issue of Iron Horse, we had the honor to feature a story by Anne Valente, and in the interview accompanying the story, she mentioned that a full-length novel was growing out of the story and was almost finished. Fast forward two and a half years, and the full-length novel will be out in a month from William Morrow/Harper Collins.
In Valente’s story, a town reeling in the wake of a school shooting is plagued by a series of house fires, and in these fires, relatives of the shooting victims disintegrate – or disappear. Valente’s collective narrator tells us: “In the end, every parent burned… A wildfire of homes. A month after the shooting, every parent was gone.” A group of surviving children begins to doubt official accounts: “We remember when the cases closed. We remember the ruling. We knew a whole town was never lost to suicide.” Early reviews indicate that Valente’s novel is a narrative that plays with form, as well: according to Publisher’s Weekly, “Valente artfully employs short chapters on arson and anatomy, as well, as diagrams, newspaper articles, and biographies of the victims on the way to an unforgettable ending.” The combination of mystery, uncanniness, and a town’s grief is incredibly compelling to me, and I can’t wait to pick up my copy.
Anne Valente’s debut novel Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down, is forthcoming from William Morrow / Harper Collins in October 2016. Her first short story collection, By Light We Knew Our Names, won the Dzanc Books Short Story Prize and released in September 2014. She is also the author of the fiction chapbook, An Elegy for Mathematics.