Susan Henderson is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize. Her first novel, Up from the Blue, was a Great Group Reads selection and a favorite here on Book Club Girl. (Listen to her podcast interview here!) Henderson’s new novel, The Flicker of Old Dreams, is a beautiful literary novel about a young woman who comes most alive while working in her father’s mortuary in a small, forgotten Western town. Jonathan Evison, New York Times bestselling author of West of Here, says, “If Shirley Jackson and Kent Haruf had a love child, she might write like Susan Henderson.”
Read on for more about The Flicker of Old Dreams, available now in paperback and ebook wherever books are sold.
Mary Crampton has spent all of her thirty years in Petroleum, a small Western town once supported by a powerful grain company. Living at home, she works as the embalmer in her father’s mortuary: an unlikely job that has long marked her as an outsider. Yet, to Mary there is a satisfying art to positioning and styling each body to capture the essence of a subject’s life.
Though some townsfolk pretend that the community is thriving, the truth is that Petroleum is crumbling away—a process that began twenty years ago when an accident in the grain elevator killed a beloved high school athlete. The mill closed for good, the train no longer stopped in town, and Robert Golden, the victim’s younger brother, was widely blamed for the tragedy and shipped off to live elsewhere. Now, out of the blue, Robert has returned to care for his terminally ill mother. After Mary—reserved, introspective, and deeply lonely—strikes up an unlikely friendship with him, shocking the locals, she finally begins to consider what might happen if she dared to leave Petroleum.
Set in America’s heartland, The Flicker of Old Dreams explores themes of resilience, redemption, and loyalty in prose as lyrical as it is powerful.
Read an excerpt.
Download the reading group guide.
Watch a video interview with the author
Visit Susan’s website.