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Below you can listen to my reading of “Sanctuary,” a story in my novel-in-stories entitled Horseshoe. The catalyst for writing this piece probably first came the result of the death of a high school friend from cancer approximately fifteen years ago. I remember that there was a church service in relation to her illness. It wasn’t a service I attended, and I never talked with my friend or anyone else about what happened there. So the events of this story and the thoughts of the lead character are from my own imagination.
I was interested in the subject matter because of my interest in what it means to be a person who believes in God and what it means to pray. I also drew on my experiences of the death of my grandfather and father in law, both also from cancer. It’s a story I couldn’t have written ten years ago before I met my wife and learned what it is to live in the world with daughters. It’s a terrifying and wonderful experience. Music is by the Jeremy Vogt Band. “Sanctuary” first appeared in the literary journal Sakura and was published most recently by Cherokee McGhee Press.
Click on the following link to listen:
Horseshoe is a novel in Southern Gothic tone stirred with Midwestern sensibility that churns the waters of the Tippecanoe River that embrace the town of Horseshoe and its inhabitants. The novel’s stories are told from multiple characters and points of view. Each chapter can be a standalone story. But when read as a whole, the book produces a rich, multilayered tale of life in a small town.
“The town of Horseshoe is modeled somewhat after my own small hometown of Winamac, Indiana,” Torgerson admits.
“Once I moved out of Winamac to bigger cities such as Fort Wayne in Indiana and Charlotte in North Carolina, I came to realize that it was a really unique feature of living in a small town that everyone knows everybody else’s business,” Torgerson says. “If you’re from Winamac and marry a person from Winamac, then you likely know that person’s entire history. You know what they did in the park when they were twelve, and you know the details of their first divorce. My friends here in New York City do not tend to have the same sort of experiences. They meet strangers and date strangers and there are parts of those people’s history which remain eternally hidden.”
The “knowing everybody else’s business” feature of his small hometown was an aspect he strived to illustrate in the stories. “I knew I wanted to have a grocery-store story but I couldn’t imagine what would happen there,” Torgerson says. “Oh sure, I had ideas, but the story surfaced for me when I was browsing a Bible concordance where I was looking for words connected to love, marriage, divorce, and adultery. It was the verse from Leviticus that unlocked the story for me, that gave me the idea for the Biblical egging of Uncle David and Aunt Barb. I think stories need that sort of unexpected turn or surprise, and so I guess I could say in a way that God delivered that part of the story to me.”
Torgerson explains that once he thinks he has an idea of where the story might go, he gives himself over to the language and uses it as the mode of transportation to find the conclusion.
“There are almost always surprises,” Torgerson says, “but I like to know where the story is headed when I begin. I wrote using similar processes with ‘The Bloody Bucket’ and ‘The Secret,’ the latter story inspired by a student who told me his mother had tried to kill him. Of course he’s not the only person to whom that had ever happened. It seems like I hear that story every once in awhile, and my story allowed me to experience a bit of what it must be like to be mother and child.”
“Welcome to Horseshoe, Indiana,” Bryan Furuness, author of The Lost Episodes of Revie Bryson, states from his reading of an advanced copy. “In the tradition of Winesburg, Ohio, William Torgerson’s new book links stories about big doings in a small town. With a style that is always engaging and often hilarious, Torgerson has written what Sherwood Anderson would have written if he had a sense of humor.”
Jane Roper, author of Eden Lake, says, “As I read, I felt as if each character’s longing, anger, lust or regret were temporarily my own. It hurt—in the best possible way.”
Horseshoe is available now at bookstores and on-line at Amazon.com and BN.com from Cherokee McGhee Publishing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
William J. Torgerson is an assistant professor in the Institute for Writing Studies at St. John’s University in New York. His first novel Love on the Big Screen tells the story of a college freshman whose understanding of love is shaped by late-eighties romantic comedies, and his adaptation of that novel won the Grand Prize of the Flickers Rhode Island International Film Festival Screenplay Competition.
William’s work has appeared in numerous literary and scholarly journals, including his article “Learning to Surf the Sea of Conversation,” which is forthcoming in the Journal of Teaching Writing. Over an eleven year span of teaching and coaching, William worked with students ranging from grades six through twelve in the public schools of Indiana and North Carolina.
Media Kit available at: http://www.cherokeemcghee.com/Torgerson/mediakit/MediaKit.htm