$3.97 in Kindle
Connect with Sharon:
by Sharon Mauldin Reynolds
An intimate look inside the lives of diverse characters who share a connection with a small
town in Mississippi. The title story follows a teenage girl whose grief propels her to wander
wraithlike through the dark streets of the town. Loss and a search for acceptance are also
reflected in "The Wishing Part" as the nine-year-old boy at the heart of this story finds his
loneliness magnified by geography. Two of the stories present us with spirited older women,
taking back their lives in differing ways after years of disappointment, while the drugstore
clerk of "June Drop" finds unexpected love late in life. Though love eludes many of the women
in these stories, they persevere. Meanwhile, the narrator of "In the Foothills" makes an unwise
choice, and we soon grasp that she's likely to repeat it.
Richly varied and poignant, Reynolds's far-reaching stories carry us to the heart of being frail,
strong, and human.
Praise for Walking Air
"These are beautiful, graceful, and immaculately constructed stories, each with its own quiet
authenticity, each casting a warm, soft light on the stirrings and yearnings of the human heart.
Walking Air is a breathtaking achievement and it is a book to which I will often return."
~ Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried and winner of the National Book Award for Going After Cacciato
"As a southern woman, I'm always anxious to see how others treat my region, my home. Thus I read
Sharon Mauldin Reynolds' debut collection of eleven short stories, Walking Air, with attention.
She reinforces the beauty, sweat, and hardship in the South. Beginning and ending with common folks,
her tales draw a reader into the human heart, sometimes found crippled but always genuine and strong.
Set in Mississippi or Arkansas or Tennessee or some other place too hot to sleep at night, her tales
are crafted with a keen ear for dialogue and eye for place.
Take Neill, who develops a relationship with Andreas (from Spain not Mexico, a fallen-away Catholic)
after a college roommate's wedding in Hattiesburg. The roommate expounds on being a virgin when she
walks down the aisle. Neill replies "Yes, but like most of the other girls in the congregation, you'll
have gone down on a guy more than once. She, on the other hand, a woman of the world had done it and
lived to tell the tale. Maybe God was not going to smite her after all."
I put my anxiety aside. Sharon Mauldin Reynolds offers a window on the South that needs to be opened
anew from time to time. She treats my home region with a practiced and understanding hand.
~ Nancy Hartney, author of the award-winning
Washed in the Water: Tales from the South
"The characters in Walking Air are driven by a fierce nostalgia, for the lost past and for lost
possibilities, too. Their stories are diverse, in place and time; these are people who persevere,
and grow, and look for beauty in the the world despite the roadblocks and bewilderments they
encounter. I admired their strength. And I admire these vivd, gritty, and richly imagined worlds
Sharon Mauldin Reynolds has created."
~ Kim Edwards, author of NYT bestseller, The Memory Keeper's Daughter
"In these masterfully rendered stories, Sharon Mauldin Reynolds presents an astonishing spectrum
of Southern characters. By the time each tale is over, unmistakable truths are revealed, each as
sharp and subtle as a change in light. Walking Air is an extraordinary collection."
~ Adrienne McDonnell, author of The Doctor and the Diva
Sometimes late at night, while everyone else in Mount Vista appeared to be sleeping and the streets
deserted, with only a few scattered lights glowing from solitary windows, Eva Craft would slip from
her bed in the old, white house where she lived with her aunt and uncle and walk through the town.
Her bare feet tingled on the cool sidewalk, a damp breeze lifting the hem of her bathrobe. She
stroked her warm cheeks, caught a tendril of dark brown hair in her fingers, and whispered her
name as a lover might. Eva.
She never encountered anyone else, keeping to the shadows so someone who might've peered into the
darkness could glimpse only a hint of a fluttering garment, thinking perhaps it was an owl or a
newspaper tossed by the wind.
On her walks, Eva often found lost objects-a set of keys gleaming in the moonlight on the sidewalk
in front of Dees' Furniture Store, a small, white New Testament on the steps of the First Baptist
Church, a fountain pen in an alley behind the clinic. All unseen, but in plain sight. At first,
she simply collected the lost objects and placed them in a shoebox beneath the studio couch where
she slept in a room at the back of the house. But when the box was full, she began placing the
newly found objects elsewhere. This brought new excitement to her nocturnal wanderings-finding
them again, in different spots, and observing the gradual deflating of footballs and the deterioration
of dolls and teddy bears and school books.
She would return to her house across from the depot in time to watch the maroon and red sleeper cars
of the Gulf Coast Rebel streak by, filled with passengers heading to New Orleans or St. Louis or other
places she'd only heard about. If she stood very still, she could imagine the ebb and flow of life
among the train's invisible, sleeping passengers, see a phantom hand reach out to touch another, hear
the sigh of a lover, feel an infant's sweet breath, smooth the soft, wrinkled cheeks of the aged.
Sharon Mauldin Reynolds grew up in Ripley, Mississippi, and now lives and writes in Lexington, Ky.
She has worked as a teacher, newspaper reporter, marketing communications coordinator and freelance
writer. Reynolds is the recipient of a fellowship from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts and
grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and Kentucky Arts Council. Her short fiction has
appeared in journals such as The Southern Humanities Review, Evening Street Review,
The MacGuffin, and Underground Voices. She is working on her second short story collection.