Horseshoe, a novel in stories

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.”

William Torgerson Love on the Big Screen Horseshoe

click cover to read excerpt on Amazon

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 and from Cherokee McGhee Publishing.

For more information on William Torgerson, please visit  Visit for more information on the publishing house and its current and future novels.


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 Torgerson Horseshoe Love on the Big Screen

a fictional Ye Olde Trading Post

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.


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If You’ve Moved Around A lot, How Do You Know Where You’re From?

Whether it was a house, an apartment, or a condo, the building I’ve called home in my life has changed twenty-three times in my thirty-nine years.  Last summer, for the first time in twelve years, I didn’t move.  Sometimes I moved twice in one year. Given all that, how do I know where I’m from?  What do I call my hometown?

Kayaking on the Tippy with (not pictured) Bassmaster Kevin "Herb" Larkin

For me, these questions weren’t so hard to figure out.  I just “felt” their answers, a state-of-knowing by feeling that I usually try to avoid.  For about ten years I let my feelings be the primary rudder that directed my life and they took me into some pretty treacherous waters.  “Do I feel as if I love her?”  Now I try to let my thinking tell me what to do, and I find that if I just do what I know to do, my feelings will often fill in the sails of action behind me.

But in the case of “where I’m from,” I know the answer in my gut:  Winamac, Indiana.  Although it’s not where I was born or where I went to school through the seventh grade, it’s the place where I graduated from high school and the town where both of my parents grew up.  Winamac is a small town set up high on the bank of a horseshoe bend of the Tippecanoe River.  I remember once when I went away to college and brought a friend home for a long weekend. He asked, “When are we going to get on the interstate?”  Travelling from Kankakee, Illinois to Winamac there are only two-lane roads and lots of corn fields.  We weren’t getting on any interstate.

In 1984 I was fourteen years old and burning to see Eddie Murphy’s Beverley Hills Cop.  All my friends were going; they had permission from their parents to see the rated “R” rated flick, but my mom told me I wasn’t old enough to go.  I hatched a plan for circumventing my mother, and my first mistake was that I stopped pestering her to go.  Like my own daughter now, when I wanted something, my primary plan was to beat my mother into submission with countless repeated requests.  Letting it go to fast probably sparked her suspicion that something was up.  My buddies were going to an afternoon matinée and so when show time came around, I told my mom I was doing something like going down to the park to shoot hoops.  She said fine and I was a bit surprised.

The Isis Theater Where My Mother Cut Me Off At the Pass Twenty-Six Years Ago

I went straight to the Isis Theater, but when I got to the ticket counter—facing an attendant for all I knew I’d never seen before—I was denied admission. Although I don’t remember anything about the attendant, I do remember what he or she said:  “Your mom called and told us not to let you in.”  Mom was smart:  who cares about where Bill is; I know where he wants to go.

So Winamac—where the Pizza King is tasty, the bike paths are flat, and a nice day is best spent on the Tippy—it’s the place where I say I’m from.  As for my oldest daughter—the child of a Midwesterner and a Southerner, born in Macon, Georgia; one-time resident of Queens and now living in Connecticut—I can’t imagine from where the little girl is going to say she’s from.  Us four Torgs, we were all born in a different state.

It’s easy for me to know where I’m from.  My parents mostly kept anchored in Winamac, so no matter how old I was—nineteen or thirty-nine—when I go visit them I am returning to the same place.  I’m certain not everyone has it this easy, and I wonder if the notion of a hometown is a problematic source of stress for some, if being from no place gives a person a different sense of identity, or if everyone has some way of figuring out where they are from.

Great New Bike Path in Winamac

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