We Might as Well Light Something on Fire
Place Published: Braddock, PA
Publisher: Braddock Avenue Books
Date Published: June 2019
There are stories and then there are Ron MacLean stories—the ones that seem almost impossible to believe, the ones that dig deep into layers of truth, the ones you simply can’t get out of your head. In prose that crackles like high-tension wires in the night, MacLean probes the mysterious center of life where things happen without explanation and where we’re brought together by our hunger for meaning. There are stories about the ambiguities and ironies permeating our lives, like “Night Bus,” where a young American traveler feels increasingly alienated among his Finnish tour group even as they seem to welcome him. There are stories of existential drift, such as “Unfound,” where a community grapples with the helplessness of not knowing as severed human feet wash onto their shore. And there are stories like “What Remains,” which bring us face to face with the dual invitation and burden of the past. Stretching the boundaries of narrative, pushing the prose into new directions, MacLean never loses sight of the complexities of love and desire and the question of doing good. Whether his stories embrace traditional narrative forms, mixed modes, or revel in postmodern uncertainty, they unfailingly speak to deep human needs—and the world’s refusal to grant them. You won’t soon forget them.
Praise for We Might as Well Light Something on Fire
If one of these stories came up to you at a party and said hi the whole night would brighten. They are very funny, and enormously likable even when bleak. A delight of a collection!
—Aimee Bender, author of The Color Master
When I’m about to read a Ron MacLean story, I ready myself for takeoff. I strap myself into my chair with whiskey or coffee. I open the book and pow, he never fails to send me off into his distant galaxies. This book is fun, funny, sad, and weird. Trust me. You want to read it right now.
—Sherrie Flick, author of Thank Your Lucky Stars and Whiskey, Etc.
Ron MacLean's stories operate like escape rooms in reverse—you want to slip into them and stay, savoring their wry observations and the sheer joy with which they play with form, language, the act of storytelling itself. We exit profoundly moved, the characters inhabiting and haunting us.
—Tim Horvath, author of Understories
We Might as Well Light Something on Fire embraces an impressive tonal range, from the lyric to the political to the hilarious. MacLean deftly faces humanity’s often lurid intentions, while managing to guide the reader toward the light, and often the comedic. These stories are rendered in the deeply intelligent, compassionate voice of a short story master.
—Maria Mutch, author of When We Were Birds
Ron MacLean is author of the novels Headlong and Blue Winnetka Skies, and the story collection Why the Long Face?. His short fiction has appeared widely in magazines including GQ, Narrative, and Fiction International. MacLean is a recipient of the Frederick Exley Award for Short Fiction and a multiple Pushcart Prize nominee. He holds a Doctor of Arts from the University at Albany, SUNY, and teaches at Grub Street in Boston. Learn more atwww.ronmaclean.net.