Sandy Downs

We are pleased to announce the publication of Sandy Downs, a novella by Tim Wirkus, winner of the 2013 Quarterly West novella contest! Purchase it here.


We often divide stories–novellas included–into the “traditional”
and the “experimental.” What we usually mean by “traditional” is
realistic narrative that is, in reality, a grand experiment of the early
20th century when psychological depth gets added to realistic depictions
of character. Sandy Downs is an actual traditional “traditional”
story that harkens back to the transcendental wackiness of
Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville, tales gone wild. There is your American
traditional narrative–with its doubling, with its incest, with
its deep deep desire to be transported into realms of being beyond
the mere “realistic” one. Sandy Downs hits all those sublime notes
and utilizes the novella package expertly, the uncanny cannily. One
must, must read out of the corner of the eye this story about reading
slant, about reading about reading. The key question asked over
and over is “how did you feel?” not “what did you think?” Narratives
pile up upon narrative and the stories resist story-ness. Sandy
Downs is being driven, in a way, by the familiar gears of detection
and mystery but as with Poe and his great invention, the locked
room murder may be answered but the real mystery of a great
ape’s is not “logically” explained. In the Rue Morgue and in Sandy
Downs we enter through words into a wordlessness that is unsettling,
unforgettable, un-understandable in the best of ways.
-Michael Martone, Novella Contest Judge