Selected by A.M. Homes as the 1997 Winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction.
In her debut collection of short stories, Becky Hagenston portrays the modern family as one that refuses to be fashionably dysfunctional. In the hyphenated, divorced, step-parented context of the late twentieth century, Hagenston reminds us that it's the minister and his wife in a small town in Maryland who are unconventional. These stories, conveyed with spirited, conversational prose, prove that the meaning of family prevails.
"Becky Hagenston writes with grace, conviction, and wit. The complex stories in this collection circle about the central questions in our lives—coming to terms with our past, coming to terms with the present. The stories have the stuff of real life and display the craft of a veteran writer; it's hard to believe that this is a first book by a young author. A Gram of Mars is a literary gem."
In A Gram of Mars, Hagenston offers us tales of the heart at home, capturing the fractured experience of family and the often desperate need for connection. Set on the author's home turf of Maryland, where she grew up, and in Arizona, where she attended graduate school, Hagenston's stories bravely document the ways in which we fail each other and ourselves... One is both comforted and challenged by the familiarity of the characters and the shared history that is life in the late twentieth century. Here is a new and necessary voice in American fiction."