Winner of the 2022 Mary McCarthy
Prize in Short Fiction, selected by Susan Minot.
stories in The Book of Disbelieving open portals to fabulist worlds and
magical objects: a village built on the back of a whale, a holiday that
requires literal leaps of faith, a tower that houses an entire civilization, a
diary that blurs the line between imagination and memory. The worlds Morse
creates are fantastical, but the challenges his characters face are grounded in
reality, calling into question issues of love, memory, and the subjectivity of
experience. Steeped in the existential crises of our era, The Book of
Disbelieving is a wondrous collection of fables and lore.
Leapers<br>The Book of Disbelieving<br>Released<br>The
Market<br>The Tower<br>Still With Us<br>The
Watch<br>The Serial Endpointing of Daniel Wheal
Originally from rural south Georgia, David Lawrence Morse studied in Russia after the collapse of communism, cleaned toilets in Yosemite, and taught English then lived on a rice farm in the foothills of Yamaguchi, Japan, before eventually earning an MFA in fiction at the University of Michigan. His short stories have appeared in One Story, Missouri Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and elsewhere. His essay on the moral and political complexity of mendacity was published in The Washington Post, and his first play, Quartet, was performed by the Takács Quartet and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival. Morse is the director of the writing program at the Jackson School of Global Affairs at Yale, and he lives in New Haven, CT.
Electric Literature, "The Must-Read Short Story Collections of 2023"
"[I]insidiously intriguing. . . Morse reveals a[n] . . . ability to interrogate the mundane and find its surprising secrets. [These] [p]rovocative tales [are] bound to raise questions about the reader's own assumptions."
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Even in stories set in what appears to be our own world, speculative elements thrum through the pages: a recently widowed janitor finds a highly detailed account of his day to day work life, written by his late wife; a woman receives a watch from her dying father, which stops at 3:27 AM each day. The Book of Disbelieving is a collection that travels to strange and magical worlds, yet returns again and again to societal anxieties that echo our own."
—Electric Literature, "The Must-Read Short Story Collections of 2023"
"Exploring different aspects of reality and fantasy, as well as the relationship between them, the stories in the collection present a cast of characters confronted with their belief: in God, in nature, in memory, and self. Drawing inspiration from folklore, mythology, literature, and history, Morse’s collection challenges perceptions of truth and fiction." —Michaeljulius Y. Idani, One Story
"The book’s nine stories explore existential questions within complex worlds, tempering dark subject matter with humor and absurdity."
—Caroline Huber, Yale News
"Throughout The Book of Disbelieving, Morse remains an assured storyteller. The language sings. The plots are layered. The characters come alive."
—Southern Review of Books
"Sea creatures, time, mating, life, and death all take a twist under David Lawrence Morse’s pen."
—Martha Stuit, Pulp
"A delightful prize-winning slim volume of short stories that you can devour one at a time and sit with, or gorge yourself in delight." —Concord Delight
“David Lawrence Morse takes feathers from the caps of some of the great fabulists—Jorges Luis Borges, Italo Calvino and Gabriel Garcia Marquez all peek behind the curtain—and adds his own sly humor… Morse is a writer of imagination and whimsy.”
—Susan Minot, author of Thirty Girls
Book of Disbelieving is filled with beauteous,
beguiling wonders—giants of the deep, towers that stretch to infinity—but the
most affecting magic here is profoundly human: the unknowability of others (and
of ourselves); the mysteries of love and loss. Morse conjures the fantastic
with such gorgeous, vivid precision we yearn for it to be real, much as his
characters yearn to believe in each other.”
—Peter Ho Davies, author of the Man
Booker Prize-longlisted book The Welsh
its light touch, The Book of Disbelieving skillfully tracks
how a change in worldview—subtle or bold—recreates the ways we look at society
and one another. There’s wild imagination here in the service of investigating
relationships of all kinds—and each story reverberates beautifully into the next."
Bender, author of The Color Master
stories in David Lawrence Morse's The Book of Disbelieving are
located somewhere between what used to be called ‘the real world’ and the world
of fables, mirror-realities, and dreams. This book carefully and patiently
takes you into Wonderland, where nothing is quite what it seems. Reader, be
prepared for a mind-bending journey to places you have never been before.”
Baxter, author of The Sun Collective
amid dreamscapes and dystopic worlds sometimes only at a slight angle to our
own, David Lawrence Morse’s The Book of Disbelieving explores
grief, wonder, courage, (dis)belief, and the obligations we have to ourselves,
our communities, and beyond. These stunningly inventive stories are filled with
fascinating characters who confront the responsibilities of knowledge and
change, mythos and desire, power and social order, and the day-to-day
commitments of just moving through their worlds. Charming and mysterious,
unsettling and moving, and always deeply alive, The Book of
Disbelieving isan inspired collection of unique depth.”
Bakopoulos, author of Scorpionfish
“What a marvel The Book of Disbelieving is!
Here are cities filled with midwives and ferrymen for the dead, and mysterious, prophetic journals of the recently deceased. It is a
collection of love, of parenthood, and of our collective fears and dreams, set
in worlds where the outskirts of cities still hold memories of unicorns and
minotaurs, and families lash their homes to the backs of enormous whales. A
brilliant and fabulous book of magical tales.”
—Alexander Weinstein, author of Children of the New World
“In the shiver-inducing tradition of Italo
Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, Shirley Jackson, and Margaret Atwood, David
Lawrence Morse paints a vivid portrait of life in a universe eerily similar to
our own. Intellectually provocative yet also deeply moving, these exquisitely
written stories remind us of the comfort to be found in ritual and convention,
along with the terror and joy to be found in freedom.”
Pollack, author of Breaking and Entering
“This is an astonishing debut. David Lawrence Morse has crafted nine short stories that share a wild inventiveness and sparkling ingenuity that will make believers of all who read The Book of Disbelieving. From ‘The Great Fish,’ the first of his fictions, to ‘The Serial Endpointing of Daniel Wheal,’ we’re in the presence of a writer who’s that rare thing: original.”
—Nicholas Delbanco, author of It Is Enough
"The 21st-century fables in
David Lawrence Morse's exquisite collection, The Book of Disbelieving,
are finely wrought timepieces that contain within their works much strangeness
and mystery. Each one lingers in the mind like a dream you can't quite
shake after waking."
—Donovan Hohn, author of The Inner Coast
"In these riveting fables, Morse writes
with lyrical beauty and biting humor to explore the precarious existence of
individuals in societies driven by convention and delusion. Morse’s
extraordinary feats of imagination illuminate predicaments close to home: you
will find yourself thinking about these stories for years to come."
—Edward Dusinberre, author of Distant Melodies: Music in Search of Home