BEFORE US LIKE A LAND OF DREAMS
by Karin Anderson
PRAISE FOR BEFORE US LIKE A LAND OF DREAMS
“This resonant novel is told in a multitude of voices, forming a family saga that is both a revisionist history of Latter-day Saint settlement in the American West and a personal journey. In powerful prose, Anderson lets a chorus of voices tell their own often surprising, sometimes heartbreaking stories.”
“A narrative extravaganza that ponders the bristled roots of ancestry, unbroken by time or place, and the muddled truths and fallacies of family history that inform who we believe we are.
This masterwork flouts expectations.”
—FOREWORD REVIEWS (starred review)
“Anderson’s fictionalized journey through time was prompted by her mother’s declining health, her son’s hospitalization, rampant wildfires plaguing the region, and a beloved country severely divided. A work of universal appeal.”
—LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)
"A unique amalgam of fiction, where the threads of Mormonism, Shoshone identity, British settlers, and multiracial origins compel a deep reconsideration of what we think we know about our roots and our history."
—THE UTAH REVIEW
“. . . bravely wrestles abandoned and underrepresented histories onto the page . . . a veritable index of abandoned history, almost like the second telling of what should have been included with the first.”
"Anderson explores the thorny entanglements of family, religion, and self, asking—with crisp, evocative prose—what portion of our lives do we direct, and what portion rests upon the 'dark hazards' of ancestral preordination?"
—JANA RICHMAN, author of The Ordinary Truth
“A magnificent orchestra of voices—piercing and holy, naked and singing, ragged and wistful and queer—but each voice, in turn, fiercely intimate and finely wrought. A book for readers who refuse to be lulled or placated, who demand more heart, more exploration, more character. Within these pages, apostates are pardoned, saints brutally humanized, and whole families baptized by their blindness.”
—NATE LEIDERBACH, author of Beasts You’ll Never See
“A warmhearted and chilling collection of true family stories that are fiction and fictional stories that are true. Anderson deploys voices from the American West as idiosyncratic as the Southern voices that make up Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. The book’s revelations and mysteries illuminate our own sketchy histories, the true stories we construct that are anything but whole but that help us survive. We all live in the Land of Dreams, which is to say in the land of our own and our ancestors’ stories.”
—SCOTT ABBOTT, author of Wild Rides and Wildflowers
“Through language rich in metaphor, that is as rhythmic and melodic as a poem, Anderson reveals to her readers that family is more than genetics, home is more than place, and understanding is always fragmented. Before Us Like a Land of Dreams will find a solid place in the
canon of literature of the American West.”
—LAURA HAMBLIN, author of The Eyes of a Flounder
"Anderson's keen prose shreds the myths of American history... Previously erased, queers populate the small towns as well as the liminal spaces between settlements in the West and Midwest. If you prefer your American history whitewashed for purity, this book isn't for you. If you prefer [to] be cognizant, for example, of the indigenous genocide committed by heroes of the West, you will find, in Anderson's vision, a stark and truthful reckoning with white legacies."
—MICHAEL WALSH, author of The Dirt Riddles
“Anderson is a ventriloquist, channeling the voices of a multitude of spokespersons whose DNA, defiances, differences, and determinations magnetize them to the American West. This glorious chorus is by turns poetic, rural, conversational, formal, an aria of stories united by their common descendant. Literary and true, this is the hardest—and best—kind of book, taking no prisoners, forgiving nothing, demanding all. Read it to confirm your membership, fierce and fragile, in the great imperfect human race.”
—JULIE NICHOLS, author of Pigs When They Straddle the Air
Before Us Like a Land of Dreams follows a disheartened mother traveling an evocative route through the arid West. As her narration fades, the ancestral dead speak directly: a ragged Mormon boy yearns after a Shoshone family. A defeated polygamous wife shuts her mouth for good. A hoarder's queer son demolishes the artifacts of his lonely Idaho childhood. Descendants of British squatters sustain family delusions until a devastating suicide shatters their royal dreams. An elite colonial clan gradually awakens to the stark blue of the Great Salt Lake. The dead yield no answers, but they conjure vivid mortal moments set in iconic—and diminishing—American places.
May 2019 | Fiction | 978-1-948814-03-4 | 320 pp | 18.95
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A gardener, writer, mother, wanderer, and heretic, Karin Anderson is a Professor of English at Utah Valley University where she focuses on creative writing, lit theory, wilderness and environmental writing, LGBTQ lit, contemporary narrative genres, and honor legacies. Her work has appeared in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Quarter After Eight, Western Humanities Review, Sunstone, Saranac Review, American Literary Review, and Fiddleblack. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and holds degrees from Utah State University, Brigham Young University, and the University of Utah. She hails from the Great Basin.