"A dazzling and absorbing collection"
-Margot Livesey, author of Mercury and The Flight of Gemma Hardy
Red Light Run
Linked Stories by Baird Harper
When two cars collide at an intersection in a leafy Chicago suburb, Hartley Nolan is not the person police expect to find behind the wheel. After all, he barely drinks; everyone in Tower Hill knows it’s his wife who’s the alcoholic. But the real question on people’s minds is what brought the other driver, Sonia Senn—dead at the scene—back to her hometown in such a hurry that night? In eleven tightly linked stories, Red Light Run pulls us into the inner lives of Hartley, Sonia, and a host of other characters to untangle the mounting forces that carry them to their fates: a trailer-park developer whose entire livelihood is laid to waste by a single cigarette, a mother battling her daughter-in-law for hegemony over her kitchen, a widower hell-bent on destroying the invasive species of beetle that’s wiping out his oak trees, and a down-and-out handyman with a desperate plan for revenge. And then there’s Sonia Senn, with a dark secret of her own, and Hartley Nolan, who has spent his life trying to rise above his roots, only to end up serving time at Grassland State Prison. With infectiously grim humor and wry insight, these characters contemplate their realities in relation to one devastating moment, propelling us toward a startling revelation about the long and sometimes crooked arc of justice. A brilliant feat of storytelling, Red Light Run is the radiant and stunning debut from Best New American Voices writer Baird Harper.
“In Red Light Run, Baird Harper’s passionate and recalcitrant characters struggle both to remember and to forget the events surrounding a fatal accident in a small town. His stories conjure a world half-known and half-understood in which there are no easy answers to the questions of guilt, blame, and forgiveness. This is a dazzling and absorbing collection.”
—Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy
“Baird Harper's characters—their hopes far behind them—default to various Plan Bs. They live on an exurban prairie between somewhere and somewhere else. This might not seem promising material, but Harper's deft articulation of ordinary life and its practitioners lifts vibrant, often tricky stories off this hard geography.”
—Carol Anshaw, author of Carry the One
“In the tradition of Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, Baird Harper has tapped the tree of Midwestern Gothic to produce a deep-hearted, unforgettable set of characters and their tightly knitted tales, each on a collision course toward a fate that binds them all. In this artfully plotted thriller, towns and people get stories stuck to them that they can’t shake, no matter how hard they try. This raw, fearless debut announces Baird Harper as the real deal.”
—David Giffels, author of The Hard Way on Purpose
“Baird Harper’s clean, mordant prose makes this cubist thriller a rush to read and assemble. The tragic death at its heart is so appallingly sad, yet feels so inevitable, we know we’re in the hands of a master.”
—James McManus, author of Positively Fifth Street
About the Author
Baird Harper grew up in Northfield, Illinois. For ten years he wrote the stories that eventually became his first book, Red Light Run, published by Scribner in 2017. Previously, his fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train Stories, Tin House, Prairie Schooner, StoryQuarterly, The Chicago Tribune, Mid-American Review, Another Chicago Magazine, CutBank, Carve, and elsewhere. His stories have been anthologized in the 2009 and 2010 editions of Best New American Voices, New Stories from the Midwest 2016, and 40 Years of CutBank, and have won the 2014 Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the 2010 Nelson Algren Award. Baird teaches writing at Loyola University and the University of Chicago. He lives in Oak Park, Illinois with his wife, Anastasia, and their two kids.
Printers Row Lit Fest
June. 10, 2018
1pm, with Nick White, 700 South State Street 4th Floor room 4038