Laura Leigh Morris lives in Greenville, South Carolina, where she teaches creative writing and literature at Furman University. Before that, she spent three years as the National Endowment for the Arts/Bureau of Prisons Artist-in-Residence at Bryan Federal Prison Camp in Bryan, Texas. She’s previously published short fiction in Appalachian Heritage, Louisville Review, Notre Dame Review, and other journals. Originally from north central West Virginia, all of her fiction is set there, the place she is most at home. From the landscape to the rich variety of people to the long history of resource extraction, the region serves as a rich backdrop to both her life and her stories. Listen to the Shelf Life interview with Laura here.
From the people who are incarcerated in West Virginia’s prisons, to a woman who is learning how to lose her sight with grace, to another who sorely regrets selling her land to a fracking company, Jaws of Life portrays the diverse concerns the people of this region face every day — poverty, mental illness, drug abuse, the loss of the coal mines, and the rise of new extractive industries that exert their own toll.
While these larger concerns exist on the edges of their realities, these characters must still deal with quotidian difficulties: how to coexist with ex-spouses, how to care for sick family members, and how to live with friends who always seem to have more.
Praise for Jaws of Life:
“Laura Leigh Morris proves to us that stories are, indeed, everywhere. She tells them with the sharp eye and wit of a master storyteller. Superb.”
– Larry Heinemann, winner of the National Book Award for Paco’s Story
“‘Look for something no one else sees,’ says one character in this fine debut, in which the people of Brickton lose many things — loved ones, their tempers, a good night’s sleep, five years of freedom — but never their power.”
– Joni Tevis, author of The World Is on Fire