We Show What We Have Learned & other stories
5.5 x 8.5
Joyce Carol Oates calls debut author Clare Beams “wickedly sharp-eyed, wholly unpredictable . . . a female/feminist voice for the twenty-first century.”
The literary, historic, and fantastic collide in these wise and exquisitely unsettling stories. From bewildering assemblies in school auditoriums to the murky waters of a Depression-era health resort, Beams’s landscapes are tinged with otherworldliness, and her characters’ desires stretch the limits of reality. Ingénues at a boarding school bind themselves to their headmaster’s vision of perfection; a nineteenth-century landscape architect embarks on his first major project, but finds the terrain of class and power intractable; a bride glimpses her husband’s past when she wears his World War II parachute as a gown; and a teacher comes undone in front of her astonished fifth graders.
As they capture the strangeness of being human, the stories in We Show What We Have Learned reveal Clare Beams’s rare and capacious imagination—and yet they are grounded in emotional complexity, illuminating the ways we attempt to transform ourselves, our surroundings, and each other.
“Clare Beams has written a dazzling story collection—as if, by a rare sort of magic, Alice Munro and Shirley Jackson had conspired together to imagine a female/feminist voice for the twenty-first century that is wickedly sharp-eyed, wholly unpredictable, and wholly engaging.”
—Joyce Carol Oates, author of The Lost Landscape: A Writer’s Coming of Age
“Stunning and brilliant. Clare Beams has a gift for illuminating one character’s most private moment, causing the impact to transform the fates of many. She navigates the tightrope between inner and outer reality. The range of her stories is astonishing—funny and devastating, suspenseful and mesmerizing.”
—Ursula Hegi, author of Stones from the River
“These amazingly inventive stories reveal an imagination rare in its command and courage. In gorgeous prose that thrills, instructs, and thoroughly inspires, Clare Beams obliterates the ‘dividing line between possibilities and impossibilities,’ showing how our passions can rule with reality-bending magic.”
—Chang-rae Lee, author of On Such a Full Sea
“An elegant and assured debut, packed with confident prose—and stories with novel-like wholeness in the way of Munro and Cheever. The stories are imaginative and flecked with darkness and subtle societal commentary in the manner of Margaret Atwood; the characters are complex and rendered with psychological acuity. Smart, savage, and compulsively readable.”
—Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Almost Famous Women
“These stories are at once spooky and lush, eerie and deeply felt, ghostly but also vibrantly alive. Clare Beams is a magician, and each of these stories is a muscular, artful haunting.”
—Caitlin Horrocks, author of This Is Not Your City