Praise for They Could Live with Themselves
I love these satisfyingly subversive stories in which the quietest people, the gentlest-seeming souls are revealed as sometimes turbulent, always surprising. It is life as lived, complete with shocks, with strange alliances, with deeply wounded and miraculously healed hearts. Bravo to Jodi Paloni for seeing well past appearances, well past timeworn assumptions, and relaying to us all, so graciously, the truths that she has found.
Robin Black, author of Life Drawing and If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This
The eleven stories in They Could Live with Themselves are closely interrelated, by shared characters and events, by setting, and by their common subject, which is loss. Three generations of the people of Stark Run, Vermont, are observed through several narratives as they seek, in their various ways, to understand and move beyond ordinary misfortunes of one kind and another. What is singular about these stories is their author’s viewpoint on them. In a style of admirable calm and understatement, and with complete emotional authority, she unites sense and sympathy in ways that are consistently artful, moving, and humane. Start at the beginning, and go straight through: Jodi Paloni just gets better and better.
—Castle Freeman, Jr., author of The Devil in the Valley, Go With Me, All That I Have
They Could Live with Themselves dazzles twice: first, as a collection of subtle and engaging short stories that stand on their own, and second, as a sustained narrative. The intriguing characters of the fictional town of Stark Run appear and reappear until, by book’s end, the reader sees the broader picture of Jodi Paloni’s expert weaving. Throughout, her prose pops with humor and insight as it tracks the eternal tug between giving to others and giving to oneself. This is a stunning debut.
—Philip Graham, author of Interior Design: Stories, How to Read An Unwritten Language
In the final story of Jodi Paloni’s They Could Live with Themselves, a young man who aspires to be a photographer decides “to do a series, tell a story” in “twelve images” and “invite his audience to feel.” That’s exactly what Paloni does in this masterly collection of linked stories. In the course of eleven stories set in fictional Stark Run, Vermont, she introduces us to an astonishingly wide range of characters and makes us feel deeply about them and their desires, their fears, their joys, and their sorrows. The town and its people come so utterly to life that no matter where you’re from you’ll feel like you’re home. Stark Run may not appear on any of Rand McNally’s maps, but it’s an important addition to America’s literary map, one that ranks up there with the likes of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, and Elizabeth Strout’s Crosby, Maine. I suggest that you visit Stark Run, and soon. If you do, you may leave it, but it and its characters will never leave you.
—David Jauss, author of Glossolalia: New & Selected Stories, Black Maps