Relative Strangers

Margaret Hermes
Relative Strangers: Short Stories
ISBN: 978-0-932112-62-0
Official Release: May 1, 2012
2011 Doris Bakwin Award Winner, selected by Jill McCorkle
Retail Price: $15.95  Our Price: $14.35


Relative Strangers received an unprecedented second place award for the 2012 Balcones Fiction Prize.

Reviews and Interviews:

“You know the Tolstoy line that begins “All happy families are alike”? Maybe they are. Maybe. It seems more likely that there are no “happy families,” but rather families that are visited by mental and physical illness as well as mental and physical health, economic woes and successes, social inequity, intellectual prowess, grief as well as happiness. If you wait long enough, all happy families turn into unhappy ones from time to time and, with luck, the opposite. The only constant is change. I think the same is true, mostly, in relationships as well. Couples stay together not because they love each other eternally – sometimes they drop out of love and work to fall back in, or don’t recognize the person they once loved in their partner – they stay because they’ve made a commitment to do so. I think we’re all strangers from time to time to the people who should know us best. How we get through that – or run from it — intrigues me.” —Margaret Hermes interview with BellaOnline’s Fiction Writing Editor Lisa Binion, July 2012. For more of the two-part interview, click: Part I and Part II

“. . . her engaging narratives are the sort that make up the lives of families, stories that we tell to each other sitting at the kitchen table over cups of coffee, or on the back porch beside a six-pack of beer.” —Gary Jones, The Penninsula Pulse, the Door County Paper, July 2012. Click for more of the review of Relative Strangers

“There’s something about the way Hermes’ characters portray themselves to their external worlds while battling their conflicting inner selves that makes them so human, so relatable, and yet so intriguingly dysfunctional…. Reading Relative Strangers is like peeling away layers of onions, with new realities uncovered in each crisp, tangy reveal. There’s the ever-present reminder that we never really know another’s reality—and sometimes never know our own. Hermes’ stories don’t have punch lines; the punch is in the overall delivery and in getting to know characters real enough to haunt off-page.” —Lori A. May, Los Angeles Review, June 2012.  For more of this review, click Los Angeles Review

“Where the hell has Margaret Hermes been all my life? . . . . Dear Lordy. I ADORE this brain, this spirit, this fantastically odd thinker and putter-of-things. . . . Below you’ll find two quotes I now LOVE.

     ‘Writers are magpies; scavenging is in the nature of the bird.’

     ‘I had four brothers, no sisters, and shared a tiny bedroom with my maiden aunt for the first seventeen years of my life. I had no choice but to write.’

 I have no choice upon reading this interview but to immediately get a copy of Relative Strangers into my greedy hands.” —Julianna Baggott, ½ Dozen, May 2012. For more of this interview click  1/2 Dozen

“Relative Strangers” hits the St. Louis independent booksellers bestseller list

“For most people who live around here, the reflexive response to the phrase ‘meet me’ is to conjure up images of Judy Garland and start singing about the 1904 World’s Fair…. But in Margaret Hermes’ story with that phrase as its title—part of this sharply drawn collection—the two words are more of a cause for suspicion than for a singalong.” —Dale Singer, St Louis Today / Post-Dispatch, February 2012. Click  St. Louis Today / Post-Dispatch , for more of this review.

“In addition to being an essayist and author, Hermes is a staunch environmentalist and some in the area may know her from her work with the Coalition for the Environment. Relative Strangers, however, departs from her ecological work, as she presents 14 stories that feature a keen understanding of what makes people tick, but not click, in a dysfunctional America. Her stories, set in various places and times, are sprinkled with tender and provocative examinations of familial relationships.” —Rob Levy, St. Louis Beacon, February 2012.  For more of the review, click St. Louis Beacon

Relative Strangers is a charming new short story collection by local author Margaret Hermes. Her stories are engaging and poignant, presenting characters experiencing a wide variety of heartbreak. . . . Each story has an element of the unexpected. Because the action of the stories rests most heavily on the internal workings of the characters, the surprise often comes from a change in perspective.” —Jennifer Alexander, The West End Word, March 2012. For more of this review, click The West End Word

Jaime Kelley’s review at Walrus Publishing, March 2012

To read Hermes’ recent essay on the relationship between reality and fiction, click here.

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REVIEW and ADVANCE COPIES ARE STILL AVAILABLE. Reviewers: Please contact us at the press email. Directors of Reading Series may also contact us to set up readings by Margaret Hermes.

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