Years after running away from America and the mysteries surrounding her mother's death, Merle Winslow winds up editing trash novels at X Publishing in West London and shacked up with a drug-addled diplomat's son. Shaky and defeated, she heads home to Florence, Ohio, with no money and no idea of what to do next.
Meanwhile, Merle discovers that her brother Olin, rich and successful from marketing Marilyn Monroe meat thermometers, is poised to embark on a dubious performance art career, and that her stodgy father might be falling in love after years of living alone. As Merle looks for clues about her mother's life she uncovers disturbing new truths about her own romantic failings. She suspects she's never really escaped her old life; she's simply dragged it along with her, "like an outfit that was ill-fitting and too revealing, but impossible to get rid of." But with the help of her tough-talking grandmother, free-spirited brother, and a pilot who nurses a failing plane, Merle finally begins to face her family's checkered past and her own uncertain future.
In vivid cinematic prose, High Strung balances humor on the rough edge of loss, regret, and wounded family love. Merle is an unforgettable creation in an exhilarating debut novel from a young writer to watch.
Quinn Dalton has had her short stories published in various literary magazines, including StoryQuarterly, ACR Magazine, and The Kenyon Review. An earlier draft Bulletproof Girl was a semi-finalist for the Iowa Short Fiction Award last year. When writing, she draws from her many travels throughout the US, Europe, Russia and the Baltic States and her many barely-rent-paying jobs she's held over the years, such as tutor, door to door saleswoman, pub worker, antique store and photo shop worker, and teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and young daughter. She is also the author of a novel, High Strung, published by Atria Books.
Publisher: Washington Square Press (June 15, 2010)
The News & Record Dalton's prose [is like] a Lucinda Williams song: full of sass, sexual tension, and dive-bar cool.
Cleveland Plain-Dealer Dalton buoys her story through strong first-person narration, scenes of comic absurdity, and well-defined, likable characters.
Julianna Baggott author of Girl Talk and The Miss America Family [Dalton] will charm you while she picks your pocket and steals your soul. I'm convinced her sentences are made of Kevlar, and her characters -- wily, wry, dangerous -- are so true they're bulletproof.