Shelter Half: A Novel

by Carol Bly

Holy Cow! Press / Consortium
Publication date June 1, 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0-9779458-6-3
$15.95 Trade Paperback

MBA Bookseller Information

This book will be featured in the 2008 MBA Catalog!

Order from your Abraham Associates rep, Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, or through wholesalers.

Completed not long before Carol’s death in December 2007, SHELTER HALF is eloquent testimony to her belief that writing is an ethical person’s best weapon against cruelty, immorality, and indifference. We know you’ll want to read, ponder, and discuss this highly anticipated novel.

SHELTER HALF is an excellent choice for reading groups, particularly since it is an original trade paperback. We encourage you to recommend it to your store’s book clubs and reading groups!

MBA and the publisher would love to have your comments, reviews, and praise for this fascinating book. Please send them to us so we can share your endorsements with your fellow MBA booksellers and with your customers!


About the Book

“In SHELTER HALF, Carol Bly has given us a work of art and wit and spiritual rigor. As in her short stories, she brings her Minnesota world to life in the names of places and people, in the resolutely nice, optimistic rhythms of their speech, and the sad distant sense of the land. Her people are endowed by their creator with the dignity of choice, and the choices they face here are charged with the possibilities of moral heroism and tragic moral collapse, and, occasionally, a kind of hilarious moral farce. Whether we live in Minnesota, New York, or Kentucky, we recognize this world – it is our own.”
– Tobias Wolff

“A lifetime of hard fought and hard won wisdom surfaces on every page, and I can’t imagine anyone being unmoved by the reading of it. This novel is going to be the book you give, the book you keep, and the book you treasure because we will never see its like again.”
– Jonis Agee

“Walt Whitman said, ‘If you want me again, look under your boot soles.’ Carol Bly might have said, ‘If you want me again, read SHELTER HALF.’ It is, and will be, Carol Bly’s only long fiction, the summation of thirty years of short stories and essays—all the ideas, characters, ethical quandaries, sly humor, voice and wisdom—a capsule of her life’s work between covers. The ur-villian, Brad Stropp, the corrupt corporate shills, the besieged wives, the drunks, the heroine, Imogene, who thinks, and feels, and does her level best to live an honest and useful life, while negotiating the comical venality and corruption around her. The scene of the young woman priest confessing her unbelief to the very wise and humane old bishop is a masterpiece within the novel. And novel it is, not a sequence of stories sewn together. In its 300 odd pages, a world is created with great ingenuity that will surprise and delight the reader: a mysterious murder, shadowy characters, small town foolishness, and a heroine finding her path back from despair. This mirror held up to the world, is made with a wise hand that intends to reflect our own face. That is Carol Bly’s genius—to bother our conscience, then to show us what a decent, honorable life might look like. Read SHELTER HALF, my friends, and be delighted and instructed together.”
– Bill Holm

“A young woman’s body lay undisturbed for a week in mid-November.”

So begins SHELTER HALF, a novel about a few people in a small northern Minnesota town. Some of them-the town cop, the doctor, and a young couple in love-are smart enough to recognize cruelty that comes at them from huge organizations far outside the town limits. They are not chicken. They don’t duck. If their nation and their world look grisly, they still do what they can for love and justice. They look out for one another.

As Scott Russell Sanders writes, “the question that drives this mesmerizing novel is not why someone committed a murder, but why ordinary people can sometimes rise to acts of great courage and compassion, as the risk of career, reputation, and even life itself. The answers are as various as the pageant of characters who fill these pages, from a German war veteran to a public relations executive, from a social worker to a strawberry farmer, from a bartender to a priest.”

Carol Bly was also the author of Letters from the Country, The Tomcat’s Wife, My Lord Bag of Rice: New and Selected Stories, and Changing the Bully Who Rules the World. Her stories appeared in The Best American Short Stories; several Pushcart Collections, including the twenty-five-year anniversary edition; The New Yorker; Ploughshares; Glimmer Train (May 2008); and other journals. She lived in St. Paul and Sturgeon Lake, Minnesota, until her death from cancer in December 2007.