Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

A Swallow Press Book

Brides in the Sky
Stories and a Novella

By Cary Holladay

“In unsentimental but intimate detail, a collection of stories peels back stereotypes about the lives of women in the past.…In spare but evocative prose, Holladay skillfully and subtly re-creates those earlier times while making clear their parallels to the present.…Women and girls often overlooked by history are given compelling voices in this collection.”

Kirkus Reviews

“I devoured (Brides in the Sky) and only wished it were longer. Discovering Cary Holladay is the best thing that happened to me during my many months of reading for this chronicle. Her stories take you in with vivid characters, compelling plots, humor and insight.”

Hudson Review

“…[Imagines] the lives of women who participated, unnamed, in so much of American history.…Backed by a beautiful sense of place.”

Garden & Gun

Brides in the Sky contributes beautifully to [Holladay‘s] body of work, its stories brimming with vibrant life, nuanced characters, and plots fueled by surprising turns.…Brides in the Sky also delivers when it comes to sheer entertainment.”

Chapter 16

Each of the crystalline worlds Cary Holladay brings us in the short stories and novella that make up Brides in the Sky has sisterhood, in all its urgency and peril, at its heart. In the title story, two women in 1850s Virginia marry brothers who promptly uproot them to follow the Oregon Trail west, until an unexpected shift of allegiance separates the sisters forever. Elsewhere in the book, a young boy’s kidnapping ignites tensions in a sorority house; frontier figure Cynthia Ann Parker struggles upon her return to her birth community from the Comanche people with whom she’s lived a full life; and in a metafictional twist, a gothic tale resonates in the present. In the novella, “A Thousand Stings,” three sisters come of age in the 1960s over a long summer of small-town scandal and universal stakes. These are just some of the lives, shaped by migrations, yearning, and the long shadows of myth, that Holladay creates. She crafts them with subtle humor, a stunning sense of place, and an unerring eye for character.

Cary Holladay has published seven volumes of fiction, including The Quick-Change Artist, Horse People: Stories, and The Deer in the Mirror. Her stories and essays have appeared in Ecotone, Epoch, Georgia Review, Hudson Review, Kenyon Review, Oxford American, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Southern Review, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many other journals. Her story “Merry-Go-Sorry” was selected by Stephen King for an O. Henry award. She teaches at the University of Memphis.   More info →


Review in Hudson Review


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Retail price: $18.95, T.
Release date: January 2019
182 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights:  World

Retail price: $29.95, S.
Release date: January 2019
182 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights:  World

Release date: January 2019
182 pages
Rights:  World

Additional Praise for Brides in the Sky

“[The title story] does that great thing that [Alice Munro’s work] does where it travels these great distances of geography and time, and you never feel like you’re missing anything.…The amount of emotion that Cary Holladay is able to put in three sentences, it just feels like someone is punching you right in the heart.”

Nick White, author of Sweet and Low, on All Sides Weekend

“One after another, the pieces collected here startle and illuminate. From the Sundance Kid’s sweetheart to a child-snatching sorority sister to a heroic telephone operator and more, Brides in the Sky exposes the limitations of our assumptions, while deftly reinventing story form. Each narrative here proves an astonishment, a marvel.”

Lorraine López, author of The Darling

“Every tale in this superb collection, from its shortest stories to its novella, is a world unto itself. Each bursts with distinctive life, and yet all feel eerily connected. Holladay moves with such ease in and out of time, in and out of such a diversity of hearts, that you feel you’re under the spell of a guide who knows the secrets of all the old houses on the street. She can show you every room—and the exquisite ghosts therein. Her tour is brilliantly imagined, deeply felt, and beautifully told.”

Tim Johnston, author of Descent

Brides in the Sky is a masterful sweep of time and imagination, and an exceptional display of voice and character. These stories span centuries, livelihoods, and the great dimension of Holladay’s impressive creativity and heart. Each story works to pull you into its ‘embrace as warm as a rug.’ And while you’re snuggled there, you look up to the Milky Way’s ‘great folds and curtains and cobwebs of stars.’ Brides in the Sky sparkles like these stars.”

Jim Minick, author of Fire Is Your Water

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