The story cycle essentially revolves around the idea of freedom. Personal choice, sexual fulfilment and the hope of an independent life are the most cherished values in its world. The most dangerous people are those who betray you, lie to you, or manipulate you, and the scariest characters are not the grotesques, of whom there are quite a number, but rather the unreliable drunks, the cheating lovers, religious fanatics and the local police. This is a deeply American way of thinking about things - we are firmly in a world of paranoia and of distrust in authority. A world in which ordinary people are most likely to be good, but only as long as they are left alone. The apocalyptic events in the stories allow the author to depict the ramifications of these social assumptions at an accelerated rate.
Ashes Rain Down is a collection of linked short stories set in a dismal, pre-apocalyptic world where environmental disasters wreak havoc on disparate communities scattered across the country. The world is embroiled in The Forever War, which, as the name suggests, is a never-ending global conflict that continues to break down the societal structures that hold fragile communities intact. The stories follow a motley collection of characters residing in Sluggards Creek, a town that serves as a microcosm of the world at large. This is a community on the brink of collapse—a waning food supply, no electricity, limited gas, and increasingly
violent civil unrest have pushed people to the very edge of human tolerance.
Foreword, Spring 2013
Luvaas’s narratives are full of grief and laughter, joy and pain. These are three-dimensional stories — four if you count the ghosts — with an understated prescience concerning our country’s dicey future.
As the world around us falls apart, our stories struggle to continue. "Ashes Rain Down" is a collection interconnected short fiction from William Luvaas, following ten individuals as catastrophe strikes the world, as he explores their reaction to the changes in the world with a sense of humor and poignancy about human nature. "Ashes Rain Down' is a strong addition to any modern literary short fiction collection, highly recommended.
The land, the weather, the relationships are constantly fraying and falling apart and being patched back together. Rivers have swelled and overflowed; St. Louis is one casualty among many. There are droughts and fires and plagues of blue bottle flies that seem to cause personality changes.
The style and mixture of voices used throughout these ten tightly linked offerings suggests Flannery O’Connor’s eccentrics channeling the apocalyptic visions of Cormac McCarthy (if McCarthy had a sense of humor) laced with brilliant absurdities that might also be labeled eerie ecstasies, the musings of a gifted ironist, a jubilantly dark comedian, a compelling writer whose mind is filled with prophetic visions about a future entirely possible—credibly even inevitable.
I remember where I was when I first read Ashes Rain Down. I didn’t hear the car repair people call my name. Luvaas presents us with somewhat bizarre characters in a surreal catastrophe, but when he’s done with us--though he’s made us laugh--we find ourselves in their shoes, their crumbling world, and hoping to be as sturdy.
Linda Swanson-Davies, co-editor Glimmer Train Stories
Heat, flies, wind and even ghosts form the eerie landscape of Luvaas’s extraordinary collection about love, hope and the stubborn resistance of humans even in the face of doom. Jaw-droppingly brilliant and downright transcendent.
Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You
Ashes Rain Down is holy-smokes brilliant, ten connected stories of the apocalypse that are sharp and filthy and gut-bustingly funny, to boot. I’ve been shouting it for years, but now I’ll shout it louder: William Luvaas, my friends, is a wild-eyed genius.
Lauren Groff, Author of Delicate Edible Birds and Arcadia
Ashes Rain Down is a perfect title for this collection, which captures the landscape of this place, where ashes do rain down in a terrible and comical and beautiful way for those who know and live here, and for those who want to be taken on the ride provided by William Luvaas in these stories. The people who populate this book are singular, hilarious, melancholy, but always compelling and always right on target. The voices are enjoyable and Mr. Luvaas knows them well.
Susan Straight, Author of Between Heaven and Here and Highwire Moon
It is one of the best contemporary short stories I have ever read. The voice is extraordinary. I’m not quite sure how you can achieve the rural vernacular through the body of the work and then end with a long passage that is beautifully articulate with a tone and vocabulary that rises into elegance....The plot is complex and evocative. The tone frequently shifts from the truly comic to the hauntingly serious. Few authors can do that. There are echoes of Faulkner here, but the story maintains its literary independence. What a joy to read a story that is such a fresh and inventive use of the form.
Stephen Minot, Author of Three Genres: The Writing of Poetry, Fiction, and Drama and Surviving The Flood
Bill Luvaas’ story Family Life, which won the Ledge 2010 Fiction Award, examines the family dynamic (and all its dysfunction) in remarkably fresh and original fashion with unflinching honesty and brutal detail. His writing is skillful and ambitious, and while quite imaginative in context, Luvaas maintains a level of verisimilitude throughout the story by imbuing his characters with a level of authenticity both rare and revealing. The disenfranchised characters in Family Life belie the wholesome connotation of the story’s title, bickering and brawling over the most essential elements in a story rich with futuristic undertones and an almost post-apocalyptic landscape.
Tim Monaghan, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The Ledge Magazine & Press
William Luvaas has published two novels, The Seductions of Natalie Bach (Little, Brown) and Going Under (Putnam), and a story collection, A Working Man’s Apocrypha (Univ. Okla. Press). His essays, articles and short stories have appeared in many publications, including The American Fiction Anthology, Antioch Review, Carpe Articulum, Confrontation, Epiphany, Glimmer Train, Grain Mag., North American Review, Short Story, Stand Mag., The Sun, Thema, The Village Voice and The Washington Post Book World. He has received an NEA Fellowship in Fiction; his stories have won Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open Contest, The Ledge Magazine’s Fiction Awards Competition and Fiction Network’s National Fiction Competition. He has taught creative writing at San Diego State University, The Univ. of California, Riverside and The Writer’s Voice in New York. He is online fiction editor for Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts.
visit Bill at: williamluvaas.com