In Limestone, Indiana, a city tucked away among forested hills, peculiar things happen, often in the vicinity of a jack-of-all-trades named Gordon Mills. Centaurs and nymphs shelter in a local cave, alligators lurk in the sewers, warm snow falls on the Fourth of July, cornstalks rise higher than chimneys, and the northern lights shine down on the municipal dump.
Gordon takes such events in stride and deals with them as part of his work on the city maintenance crew. He earns just enough to support a boisterous family, which includes his formidable wife Mabel, their four children, Mabel's parents, and his widowed mother—nine souls packed into an old house that falls apart as fast as Gordon can fix it.
Part folktale, part tall tale, part comic romance, Small Marvels revels in the wonders of everyday life. So, welcome to Limestone, Indiana. You won't find it on a map, but you may remember visiting the place in dreams, the rare, blissful ones in which puzzles are solved, kids flourish, hard work pays off, and love endures.
You can read "Centaur," a story from Small Marvels, on terrain.org.
Scott Russell Sanders, being a wise man who agonizes over the sinking of our traditional virtues, uses his great storytelling skills to keep buoying them up. In Small Marvels, he reminds us of the values of honest work, unselfishness, and wholesome family devotion, not by preaching but by pulling us into warm, funny, whimsical stories about the poor but happy family of Gordon Mills, a homely jack-of-all-trades who can leave no good deed undone. Gordon is the worthiest poor-folks' hero I've seen since Wendell Berry's unforgettable Jayber Crow. -- James Alexander Thom, author of Fire in the Water
Scott Russell Sanders's Small Marvels is its own kind of miracle, a contemporary work of short fiction where the protagonist, Gordon Mills, quietly repairs the work of entropy with love and kindness, a ready set of a handyman's tools, and an unshakable faith in community. I love this character, his family, and the town of Limestone, Indiana, a place reminiscent of Wendell Berry's Port William, that they call home.
-- Susan Neville, author of The Town of Whispering Dolls
Scott Russell Sanders's newest book makes me feel better about the world. Each story from the lives of Gordon Mills and his family is a gift and the collection as a whole is a balm for the heart and spirit. In a time of uncertainty and division, Gordon (who is part mechanic, part everyday mystic) and his very human, always entertaining family, reminds us of all that is still right in the world and shines a light on what is luminous and extraordinary in an ordinary day. Scott Russell Sanders has a beautiful constellation of works, I have loved all I've encountered, and Small Marvels is truly another bright star. -- Carrie Newcomer, songwriter, author of The Beautiful Not Yet and Until Now: New Poems
When I first heard Scott tell a story, I prayed the day would come he'd write a book of them, and here it is! In Small Marvels, eloquence, humor, and magic mingle together in a delicious blend. Limestone, Indiana, will no doubt take its place in the landscape of Hoosier legends. -- Philip Gulley, author of the Harmony Series
Listen to an interview with Scott about Small Marvels, conducted by Michael Tusa on Writer's Forum, WRBH Reading Radio, New Orleans.
America's drama has always been between mobility and stability. These deadpan understated dispatches from the striations of Limestone are all about the staunch staying, and these tales sculpt, indeed, poetic stays against the entropic confusion found in all our hyperkinetic need for the getting up and the going. --Michael Martone, author of The Complete Writings of Art Smith, The Bird Boy of Fort Wayne