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Interior art by Ann Piper

Cover design by Kurt Volk

The sixteen stories in this debut collection set on the Eastern Shore of Maryland feature powerfully drawn characters with troubles and subjects such as communal guilt over a drunk-driving car accident that kills a young girl, the doomed marriage of a jewelry clerk and an undercover cop, the obsessions of a housecleaner jailed for forging her employers’ signatures, the heart-breaking closeness of a family stuck in the snow. Each of Unfinished Stories of Girls’ richly textured tales is embedded in the quiet and sometimes violent fields, towns, and riverbeds that are the backdrop for life in tidewater Maryland. Dent’s deep love for her region shines through, but so does her melancholic thoughtfulness about its challenges and problems. The reader is invited inside the lives of characters trying to figure out the marshy world around them, when that world leaves much up to the imagination.

About the Author

Catherine Zobal Dent was born in Washington, DC and raised on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Her fiction has appeared in numerous journals, including Harvard Review, North American Review, and PANK. While at Binghamton University in 2006, she won the Charles Johnson Award for Student Fiction. She is the fiction and poetry editor of Modern Language Studies and an assistant professor at the Writers Institute of Susquehanna University. This is her debut story collection.

Catherine’s website


“What a great pleasure to read Catherine Dent’s stories, immersed as they are in place and time, exploring the mysteries of human connection—or missed connection—under duress. Each story resonates with a kind of haunting as it flickers deftly in and out of perspective; complicit narrators, hidden in shadows; girl-ghosts, alive and dying. A kind of madness runs through the stories of these girls and the women they might have, or have, become; with the economy and intensity of poetry, Dent lays bare their unfinished lives.”

—Rebecca Godwin, author of Keeper of the House and Private Parts

“In stories simultaneously graceful and gritty, fabular and rock-hard real, Dent alchemizes apparent paradoxes into an utterly original vision. An accomplished and inspiring debut.”

—Ann Pancake, author of Strange as This Weather Has Been and Given Ground

“Catherine Zobal Dent's collection Unfinished Stories of Girls got me excited as only the discovery of a fresh new voice can. In these lovely pieces she does so many things so well that it's hard to know where to start. Suffice it to say that I was both moved and surprised time and again.”

--Steve Yarbrough, author of The Realm of Lost Chances