Half an Inch of Water

Half an Inch of Water
Percival Everett

“Everett displays his mastery of a certain kind of sparse landscape we have come to expect from the writing of the rural West. . . . But what is most enchanting about this collection is the rumor of magic constantly on the periphery, the inexplicable that emerges from and then retreats back into the haze of the desert.”The New York Times Book Review

"Agile. . . . Everett's spare prose both anchors the supernatural flourishes and binds the collection together, as constant as the landscape."The New Yorker

About the Book

A new collection of stories set in the West from “one of the most gifted and versatile of contemporary writers” (NPR)
Percival Everett’s long-awaited new collection of stories, his first since 2004’s Damned If I Do, finds him traversing the West with characteristic restlessness. A deaf Native American girl wanders off into the desert and is found untouched in a den of rattlesnakes. A young boy copes with the death of his sister by angling for an unnaturally large trout in the creek where she drowned. An old woman rides her horse into a mountain snowstorm and sees a beloved dog that had died years before.
For the plainspoken men and women of these stories—fathers and daughters, sheriffs and veterinarians—small events trigger sudden shifts in which the ordinary becomes unfamiliar. A harmless comment about how to ride a horse changes the course of a relationship, a snakebite gives rise to hallucinations, and the hunt for a missing man reveals his uncanny resemblance to an actor. Half an Inch of Water tears through the fabric of the everyday to examine what lies beneath the surface of these lives. In the hands of master storyteller Percival Everett, the act of questioning leads to vistas more strange and unsettling than could ever have been expected.

Additional Reviews

The Story Prize Long List 2015
One of NPR's Best Books of 2015
One of MPR's Best Books of 2015
One of Electric Literature's Best Story Collections of 2015
One of 
Flavorwire's Best Independent Press Books of 2015
One of Kansas City Star's Best Story Collections of 2015


"Half an Inch of Water plunges into the contemporary American West with quiet confidence and a shimmer of magic. . . . [Everett's stories] have a mythic, romantic, timeless quality, setting people against backdrops that melt seamlessly into the wilderness, both physical and spiritual."Los Angeles Times

“Everett displays a intellectual dexterity and formal versatility that few contemporary American writers can match.”Chicago Tribune

“The nine stories in Half an Inch of Water feel almost like haiku in their openness, and in their attention to the natural world. . . . Arguably the best collection of [Everett’s] career.”Harper’s Magazine

“While stories of plainspoken men and women living in stark, sparsely populated towns are familiar, Everett finds new ways to enliven the setting and the characters. He knows the right places to apply pressure to the narrative and the stresses to test. Just when you think you have a particular work figured out, it tends to shift into something fresh and new—taking both the reader and the characters closer to a moment of mystery and revelation.”Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

"Everett's mastery of the short story and authentic portrayal of rural Wyoming make Half an Inch of Water one of my favorite collections of the past few years."—Kansas City Star

 “Wonderfully precise and self-altering stories from arguably our most consistent writer.”Flavorwire

“Dry, sincere, quiet—[Half an Inch of Water] reminds us that these adjectives aren’t naughty words, and that Everett’s gifts are as limitless as the landscape about which he writes.”Electric Literature

Half an Inch of Water [is] magical realism for the American West. . . .  There is suffering [in Half an Inch of Water], but also mercy and wonder, and a chance for the familiar to be made new by the extraordinary.”St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“If you haven’t read Percival Everett, you are missing out one of the great novelists of our time.”The New Inquiry

“Each story is wonderfully colored with character. . . . All of the stories are beautiful. . . . Like Margaret Randall’s Stone WitnessHalf Inch of Water will appeal to lovers of literary and nature fiction.”Library Journal

“The short stories in Percival Everett’s Half an Inch of Water are deceptively simple, and yet you finish each one with a distinct sense of unease and weird wonder about what just happened. . . .  Everett may be the best American author writing today.”The Awl

"[Half an Inch of Water is] a darkly magical assortment of tales that embraces both unrelenting suffering and life's small, saving graces."—Washington Independent Review of Books

“The eclectic Everett has consistently defied pigeonholing by genre or race, though themes of identity permeate his work. . . . The language is straightforward, almost Hemingway-esque, though some of the events it describes border on the supernatural.”Kirkus Reviews

“[Everett’s] latest collection will provide readers with a new set of wonderful enigmas. Set in the snowy western U.S., the stories are stylistically mercurial—equal parts zany and somber, highlighting Everett’s masterly dexterity as a writer. . . . His stories, with their wide array of literary influences and referential nods, are imminently familiar yet somehow constantly surprising.”Publishers Weekly

“The terrain [Everett] paints is vast and harsh, peopled by strong, sometimes quirky characters reminiscent of those in Annie Proulx’s three volumes of Wyoming Stories. . . . Everett’s characters take hold of the reader and won’t let go, and as soon as one story is finished, the next immediately beckons, surely the mark of a beautifully written collection, one to recommend and read again.”Booklist