River Talk

by CB Anderson

Surefooted and emotionally deft, the stories in River Talk introduce an unforgettable array of characters. A woman reconsiders her decision to enter a polygamous marriage; a taxidermist plies his trade to woo the woman he loves; a Somali refugee takes a job at the local mill to support her family. In spare yet vivid prose, Anderson explores loss and desire, regret and hope. Everywhere we are reminded of all that a single life contains.

Early Endorsements for River Talk

“In the tradition of Winesburg, Ohio, CB Anderson follows the discrete and diverse lives of characters in a small town, revealing both the heart and heartache that surrounds us all.  This is a powerful and wonderfully insightful book; I can’t imagine a reader who wouldn’t come away moved and illuminated.”

—Antonya Nelson, award-winning author of Bound

“A stellar, fully realized collection of stories. River Talk is grounded, wonderfully, in the river valleys of Western Maine, but Anderson knows her diverse collection of characters just as intimately – their desires, their secrets – and you come away not only understanding a place but the soul of its people.”

—Peter Orner, award-winning author of Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge

“I adored these stories, every one of which engaged my mind and my heart. Anderson writes with wisdom, generosity, and beauty about people we don’t see often enough in contemporary literature. She gives us minimum-wage strivers, doing their best and sometimes their worst, and asks us to see them, hear them, walk with them for a while. Anderson is a marvelous writer, but her best gift is simple and rare: empathy.”

—Monica Wood, best-selling author of When We Were the Kennedys

“CB Anderson’s River Talk is more than just an extraordinary debut. It is that rare work of literary art that sneaks up on you, acquiring power and depth from story to story until, by the end, you realize that a master storyteller had been leading you to a surprising and yet altogether inevitable destination. The down-on-its-luck Maine mill town that is the setting for so many of the stories isn’t some distant, rusting relic, the industrial by-product of someone else’s American dream. China Falls is where we all live now.”

—Paul Doiron, best-selling author of Massacre Pond

“CB Anderson’s powerful prose collection, River Talk, reminds us that lives can be hardscrabble and quietly meditative. The struggling towns of western Maine animate River Talk, with their fiercely believable characters and potent natural backdrops, as in the abandoned mines of the award-winning story “Tourmaline.”  Think Alice Munro crossed with Bobbie Ann Mason: the characters in these stories manage to be familiar and mysterious.”

—Carolyn Alessio, Prose Editor, Crab Orchard Review

“Rifts are raw and togetherness tenuous for those living on the banks of Maine’s Mason River. CB Anderson explores her characters with generosity and with an authenticity that catches one off guard–both for how precisely she captures her characters and for how honestly she bares their souls.”

—Cynthia Phoel, author of Cold Snap: Bulgaria Stories

“Brimming with life lived on the edge of insecurity, Anderson’s collection compels us with its sharply heard and imagined “river talk.”  Listen in as the men and women of small towns in inland Maine steadily surprise not only us but themselves.  There’s no surprise though in these stories having won already an impressive handful of individual awards.”

—David Hamilton, Editor Emeritus, The Iowa Review

“The stories in River Talk are wild tributaries feeding into one majestic river. Each twists and bends according to its own unique geography, but the same inexorable current pushes them all to a great confluence where tragedy and triumph, hope and despair collide.”

—Joe Hiland, former fiction editor, Indiana Review