Published by Crown Publishing Group on May 26th, 2015
Buy from IndieBound
The world of Southern Gothic literature was once well populated with women; Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers, and Dorothy Allison are regularly mentioned alongside William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams. But in recent years, the genre has shifted away from its ghostly Gothic roots toward new Grit Lit sensibilities—and it’s overwhelmingly male.
Enter Sara Taylor. Don’t be fooled by the beachy scene on The Shore‘s cover—the islands off the coast of Virginia are beautiful, but their stories are grim. Taylor’s characters encounter drugs, extreme physical and sexual violence, and murder of the kind that’s common to Grit Lit, but here they’re braced by the feminism and sense of magic realism the genre has been lacking.
“Maybe one day you’ll learn to read his moods better, learn to sense when he’s running out of patience, learn to stop pushing him until the storm comes. There will be bruises, on your arms and other not so visible places, in the morning, and neither Stella nor Ellie nor any of the people you see throughout the day will say a word about them, the way you never say a word when Ellie’s skin blooms purple-green. Even so, you know they’ll see and wonder what you said, what you did, and how you failed to keep it together this time.”
The Shore works as both a novel and heavily connected short stories. Starting in 1885, the book follows a community on the Shore for over 200 years, dropping hints and names along the way; a minor background character in one chapter could be central to the plot in another, sometimes 100 pages or 100 years later. While this will certainly be frustrating for some readers, thinking and theorizing can sometimes make a book a reading experience instead of just a story.
An absolutely immersive experience, at that. In many ways, pulling apart the layers of The Shore calls back to close examination of classic work—both challenging and rewarding. At just 24, Sara Taylor has blended the best elements of Grit Lit and Southern Gothic with a completely original spin and left her first, powerful mark on the literary world.