Moon Trees and Other Orphans is a gritty collection of short stories set along the Gulf Coast, focusing on themes of desperation, loneliness, and love. Filled with hard-living characters who are deeply lonely, it tracks the ways they fight for survival, often making very bad decisions as they go. Populated by gun toting women, ex-cons, desperate teens, and other outsiders, it is a collection about what life is like in hard places, both beautiful and dangerous.
The women in Leigh Camacho Rourks’ stories carry guns and they know how to use them. This is the best kind of fiction, well-honed, lean and flinty with deep pockets of compassion and vulnerability and hope, every sentence a made thing. If you love Lucia Berlin and Dorothy Allison, (or even if you don’t) these women will get under your skin and stay there. Moon Trees is a truly stunning literary debut.
Leigh Camacho Rourks’ fiction sits on the fault-line of reality and lore: fever-dreams that will reveal a place you thought you knew but didn’t. Moon Trees is more than just a story collection. It’s a guidebook of folktales and food and language. It’s an invitation to the customs of a region. Accept the invitation. You won’t be sorry.
— John McNally
Hot damn, this is a powerhouse debut. Leigh Camacho Rourks deserves a hallowed space on the shelf between Flannery O’Connor and Donald Ray Pollock. Every sentence burns like a black candle, and her stories are gothic and fearless and unsparing and barbed with wondrous detail and populated by the kinds of misfits and renegades and freaks you might feel nervous living next door to, but can’t get enough of on the page.
— Benjamin Percy