Ron MacLean, We Might as Well Light Something on Fire

There are stories and then there are Ron MacLean stories—the ones that seem almost impossible to believe, the ones that dig deep into layers of truth, the ones you simply can’t get out of your head. In prose that crackles like high-tension wires in the night, MacLean probes the mysterious center of life where things happen without explanation and where we’re brought together by our hunger for meaning. There are stories about the ambiguities and ironies permeating our lives, like “Night Bus,” where a young American traveler feels increasingly alienated among his Finnish tour group even as they seem to welcome him. There are stories of existential drift, such as “Unfound,” where a community grapples with the helplessness of not knowing as severed human feet wash onto their shore. And there are stories like “What Remains,” which bring us face to face with the dual invitation and burden of the past. Stretching the boundaries of narrative, pushing the prose into new directions, MacLean never loses sight of the complexities of love and desire and the question of doing good. Whether his stories embrace traditional narrative forms, mixed modes, or revel in postmodern uncertainty, they unfailingly speak to deep human needs—and the world’s refusal to grant them. You won’t soon forget them.

Ron MacLean is author of the novels Headlong and Blue Winnetka Skies, and the story collection Why the Long Face?. His short fiction has appeared widely in magazines including GQ, Narrative, and Fiction International. MacLean is a recipient of the Frederick Exley Award for Short Fiction and a multiple Pushcart Prize nominee. He holds a Doctor of Arts from the University at Albany, SUNY, and teaches at Grub Street in Boston. Learn more at

Event date: 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019 - 7:00pm

Event address: 

Porter Square Books
25 White St.
Cambridge, MA 02140