2014. BCC publication number 232.
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Monique Wentzel is a compelling new voice in contemporary fiction and the recipient of a 2012–14 Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University. She takes as her subject the people and places of California, revealing a tender, sometimes dark vision of the relationships between them. Set in mostly rural areas in Northern California, along the California-Arizona border, and in the suburbs around the San Francisco Bay, Wentzel’s narratives describe the beauty of this vast landscape as well as the singular, vivid ordinariness of the many lives unfolding within it.
Author Jane Vandenburgh has written: “In Monique Wentzel’s masterful debut collection we come again and again upon Californians native to this place for generations yet finding themselves strangely ill-at-ease here at the far edge of the American continent. Wentzel writes with sympathy for each of these characters caught in flux, with no secure place to stand in the world.” Although told in distinct voices and structured around closely-observed details that allow each story to stand on its own, a sense of something primal runs through the book, and Wentzel’s unflinching prose gives deep cohesion to the whole. The moments gathered in these thoughtfully curated stories may be ephemeral, but the writing resonates and endures.
San Francisco artist Jessica Dunne’s subtle drawings explore and reflect on the stories’ themes. More than illustrations, they offer a visual counterpoint to the varied facets of Wentzel’s narratives.
The Woods Were Never Quiet is Publication Number 232 of The Book Club of California. The book measures 9.25 by 6 inches, and includes eight full-page line drawings and eight vignettes by Jessica Dunne. The book was designed and letterpress printed in Spring 2014 by Jonathan Clark at The Artichoke Press in Mountain View, California. The paper is Mohawk Superfine. The type was set in Garvis Pro, designed by James Todd. The books were bound with a linen spine and decorative boards and endpapers by Acme Bookbinding in Charlestown, Massachusetts.
The edition consists of 300 numbered copies, signed by both the author and the illustrator. Of these, 140 copies have an additional print by Jessica Dunne laid in; these copies are designated for The Book Club of California’s Standing Order members, who provide crucial support for the publishing program by agreeing to buy each new book upon release.