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How to Build a Home for the End of the World

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Donny is a carpenter who renovates houses in his abandoned hometown, Fox Lake. His daughter, Mary-Beth, is hell-bent on following her first love, Ida, to California, where she has gone to seek care for a chronic illness. Together, father and daughter go on a road trip across a waterless American landscape, populated by a peculiar cast of angels, ghosts, revolutionaries, academics, performance artists, and desert healers. Along the way, they must reckon with past mistakes, a broken home, and their own contentious relationship with each other. 

Formulated as a case history of post-apocalyptic times, How To Build a Home for the End of the World considers how people negotiate memory and longing, despair and hope, love and lies in the throes of ever-unraveling crises.  

What people are saying: 

"In this trenchant novel, the end of the world also brings us to the very brink of the end of whiteness... Written with heartfelt insight, depth and longing, this road trip through a civilization in the process of collapse carefully balances both sides of the devastation: all that was thoughtlessly degraded and what it might look like to embrace some form of repair, all the while circling around the question of what it might mean to more fully and honestly love." -- Jacob Wren, author of Polyamorous Love Song

"In How To Build a Home for the End of the World, Keely Shinners' directive is to sit with the darkness of various, variegated crises (environmental, political, spiritual). Maybe, in documenting how to build, how to end, how to world, their characters become new to each other." -- Tiana Reid, writer and academic from Toronto

"How to Build a Home for the End of the World makes familiar scenes of first love, family bonds, and road tripping feel both intimate and strange. Set against a backdrop of post-apocalyptic continental drought and new experiments in water governance that this elicits, Shinners’ beautiful storytelling moves like a hydrological cycle: gathering us up, disbursing us, then returning us back to the flow. We are reminded that just because we are all bodies of water, made of the same water, connection is neither easy nor guaranteed – but doing the hard work of loving each other is worth it."

-- Astrida Neimanis, lecturer at the University of Sydney Australia and co-editor of Thinking With Water


About the author: 

Keely Shinners is a writer from Fox Lake, Illinois. They are currently based in Cape Town where they write fiction and essays about literature and art. How To Build a Home for the End of the World is their first novel.

print book, 5.25x8, 228 pages

cover design + layout by madi giovina

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