Lessons In Another Language
A Novella and Stories
published by Four Way Books, 2010
Favorites: Daily Life of the Pioneers, the Linguist -- but actually - every one of them." Naomi Shihab Nye
"I didn't just read this book. It was one of the rare ones that could be savored. The flow of prose unwinding transparent and tensile as spider silk, lightness catching the light."
"Megan Staffel does rural and urban, adolescence and adulthood, tough and tender, story and novella, with equal felicity and grace. The range of this collection--emotional and formal--is as astonishing as her rich and tender evocation of what it is to be alive. This is a book with a vigilant spirit, built to linger and bloom." Michael Parker
The Notebook of Lost Things
Helene and her mother came to the small town of Paris, New York after World War II as refugees from the bombing of Dresden. They were joining a distant relative only to find that he'd vanished. William Swick, a shy and lonely bookseller, also the town's only dwarf, took them in for a night that turned into a lifetime. Harry, sour and sexually voracious, the owner of the village tavern, looks out of his window and sees something that challenges his cynicism. Stella, the poor half-Mexican teenager who courts danger in original ways, must act as mother to her own mother. THE NOTEBOOK OF LOST THINGS is a novel about the way mystery brings together five unrelated people in a small town, the way the surfaces of life mislead, the way one secret leads to another, and changes things forever.
"THE NOTEBOOK OF LOST THINGS is told in prose that is Zen-like in its clarity, solidity, and attention to the ordinary. From this illuminated everydayness, the secret, sensuous, and always creditable lives of Staffel's characters naturally emerge, and the unfolding of their stories is fixed, so as not to be lost, by this mature and beautiful book." Stuart Dybek, The Coast of Chicago
She Wanted Something Else
A first novel of uncommon delicacy and sureness, SHE WANTED SOMETHING ELSE is the story of three connected lives and the delicate shifts, hesitations, and redirections that alter, threaten, and renew the characters' relationships over time. Foremost is Rose Ann, a dedicated painter who never does quite what is expected of her--or even what she expects of herself. Imperious and stubborn, she is caught between the demands of her family and those of her life as an artist. Told from the points of view of each of the three characters--Rose Ann, her husband, Teddy, and her daughter, Alma--SHE WANTED SOMETHING ELSE traces Rose Ann's struggle to be artist and wife and mother. It is the story of three imperfectly suited people and the emotional force that binds their lives together.
"From her opening scene, in which a child unhooks a guardrail of a roller coaster and stands up to wave to her mother far below, Megan Staffel shows a fine instinct for rendering scenes that reveal the secret essence of her characters. The daring child becomes a daring woman who risks her marriage to study painting in Rome. Ms. Staffel's portrait of the artist explores the tension between ambition and love with a true novelist's well-balanced compassion." Thomas Gavin, Breathing Water
These fully realized, engaging stories recreate the people and the places they inhabit with compelling vision
What They Said About LESSONS IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE