The Rope Swing: Stories
144 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Release Date:01 Apr 2016
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The Rope Swing: Stories

West Virginia University Press, Vandalia Press

A once-booming West Virginia rail town no longer has a working train. The residents left behind in this tiny hamlet look to the mountains that surround them on all sides: The outside world encroaches, and the buildings of the gilded past seem to crumble more every day. 

These are the stories of outsiders—the down and out. What happens to the young boy whose burgeoning sexuality pushes him to the edge of the forest to explore what might be love with another boy? What happens when one lost soul finally makes it to New York City, yet the reminders of his past life are omnipresent? What happens when an old woman struggles to find a purpose and reinvent herself after decades of living in the shadow of her platonic life partner? What happens to those who dare to live their lives outside of the strict confines of the town’s traditional and regimented ways? 

The characters in The Rope Swing—gay and straight alike—yearn for that which seems so close but impossibly far, the world over the jagged peaks of the mountains. 

Jonathan Corcoran's Appalachian voice, so fierce, so tender, portrays tradition as both weapon and soothing balm. The Rope Swing takes us inside quiet revolutions of the soul in mountain towns far from Stonewall: we can never go home again, but we recognize ourselves in these linked stories of love, loss, the economic tyranny of neglect and exploitation, and the lifelong alliance between those who stay and those who leave. The Rope Swing establishes a new American writer whose unerring instincts are cause for celebration.'
—Jayne Anne Phillips, author of Quiet Dell, Lark and Termite, and Black Tickets
A powerful, moving, and beautifully-written book. Corcoran writes both queer and straight characters with insight and empathy. He is an observant writer who understands people’s pain, regrets, heartache, and hope. This much needed, important book explores rural America and queer identity, two subjects rarely portrayed together.'
—Carter Sickels, author of The Evening Hour
'The Rope Swing is an astute, stereotype-busting triumph that shines a light on gay Appalachia. Corcoran unflinchingly exposes hard truths about a complicated region and its people who grapple with identity in more ways than one.'
—Marie Manilla, author of Still Life with Plums and The Patron Saint of Ugly

Jonathan Corcoran received a BA in literary arts from Brown University and an MFA in fiction writing from Rutgers University-Newark. He was born and raised in a small town in West Virginia and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. This is his debut book. Learn more at 

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